Job Seekers: 4 Essential Tips on Getting the Most Out of a Career Fair

Over the past couple of days, we’ve talked about the career fair, from why it’s not obsolete, to how employers can get the most out of them by coming prepared and being approachable to job seekers.

Since we’ve been focusing on the employer’s side of things, we thought it would only be fair to talk about the career fair from the perspective of the job seeker.

Today, we’re going to do just that by giving job seekers four essential tips on how to get the most out of a career fair. Take a look below:

  • Know before you go. Take the time to find out who is going to be at the career fair. Not only will this minimize the amount of time it will take for you to go around searching for the booths you want to visit, it also gives you a chance to brush up on basic info about the companies you are interested in applying for.

    As Miriam Salpeter, a job search/social media consultant and owner of Keppie Careers, puts it, “there’s nothing more appealing to an employer than prospective hires who actually know something about their organization”–so take a moment and get to know who you want to apply to for.

  • Introduce yourself. Recruiters want to meet you, so don’t be shy about saying hello. Putting yourself out there is one of the best ways to make the right first impression. Not only does it show that you are confident in yourself, it also shows that you interested in the job, giving you a better chance at being recognized by someone in the company, should you plan on applying in the near future.
  • Ask questions. That is what recruiters are there for, so feel free to ask away. Asking basic questions about the position helps to show your interest in the position as well as give you the opportunity to focus on other more important topics when it comes time to interview.
  • Follow up. To really make an impression, consider sending a follow-up note to the recruiters/companies you really enjoyed talking to. This is the best time to remind them of who you are, as well as your strong interest in working for the company. And, if you really want to make a connection, try your best to reference a memorable topic in your conversation, whether that’s something about yourself, or something that they brought up.

Have any tips you’d like to share with other job seekers? Let us know by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter. We’d love to hear from you!

Employers’ Career Fair Tips (Part II)

Yesterday, we talked about the value of utilizing career fairs as another part of your recruiting arsenal.

As we mentioned, though, working a career fair requires much more than just showing up and hoping for the best–especially if you want to get the most of out sending your recruiters there by finding great talent.

On essential tip that we already brought up was the importance of being prepared for anything and everything while you are at your booth, from your target audience, to print material/paperwork, to keeping your recruiters on the same page, as well as looking professional while you do all of the above.

To finish of our series, we are going to talk about another essential tip you must follow when working a career fair: being approachable. Take a look below:

Be approachable

Being prepared is a key element to having a good career fair trip, but to make it great one it is essential that you combine your preparedness with a little bit of approachability.

As we’ve discussed in the past, the candidate experience begins long before they are in your office for an interview. So while you might be ready to take on any questions thrown at you by a job-seeker, you have to make sure you can do it gracefully and professionally, because how they perceive you will affect how they look at your company, as well if they want the job.

Here are a few things you should consider:

  • Be active. Simply put, move around your booth. Stand up, come around, and shake hands with those who stop by. Those who take initiative are the ones who make the biggest (and the right) impressions, while those who just sit around behind the table look dull.
  •  Put the phone down. Perhaps you are worried about an important project you have back in the office or you just want to fight the lull during certain parts of the career fair. This, however, can cause you a lot of trouble.

    Chatting or checking emails on your phone is just plain rude. Not only does it show that you don’t want to be at the fair, it also sends a message to job seekers that you aren’t really looking for candidates, when, in fact, you are.

  • Be punctual. “First in, last out,” is how Shannon Smedstad of Blogging4Jobs puts it. In short, take full advantage of the time you are spending at the career fair. Sure, the early beginning and late end of career fairs can be dull, but that hardly means you shouldn’t put effort into either extreme. Going the extra mile is likely to pay off for you in the end, and it never hurts to be a little early.

Are there any other tips you follow when working a career fair? Let us know by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter!

Employers’ Career Fair Tips (Part I)

Spring is just around the corner and that means that it’s a special time of the year for recruiting: career fair season.

Career fairs are certainly a great recruiting tool for find the best talent around. To see what we mean, take a look at our previous post on why career fairs are not obsolete.

And right about now, recruiters should also be hitting college campuses in order to take full advantage of the job seekers who come from there in waves looking to work for the best companies around.

Whether you’re on a college campus or at a full-blown career fair, finding the right talent requires more than just showing up and hoping for the best. In order to get the most out of your career fair experience, we are going to talk about a few important tips to consider.

For today, we’re going to focus on the importance of coming to the career fair prepared. Take a look below:

Be prepared

Nothing is worse than coming to a career fair ill-prepared. Not only does it prevent you from effectively reaching out to probable candidates–because you are too busy fumbling around–but it also makes your company look bad, as well.

Simply put, you are the representative of your company at a career fair, so it is essential that you show up with everything ready. Here are a few things we suggest:

  • Find out who your target audience is. College aren’t the only places that host career fairs, so make sure you know who your audience is, whether they’re college students, professionals, etc.
  • Have enough print material/paperwork on hand. It should go without saying that job seekers will be hitting a dozen if not more booths besides yours, so make sure you have a physical copy of the job/company description that can help remind them of you.

    When printing, try to make more copies than you anticipate giving out. It’s always better to have too many copies than to make a job seeker have to go online and search around your website or worse, forget about your company altogether.

  • Keep your recruiters in the know. Make sure your recruiters are all on the same page before they meet at the career fair. That means a detailed understanding of the job description, multiple answers to possible questions, and a specific plan on how they will execute the hiring process. The last thing you want is conflicting information from two recruiters.
  • Looks are important. Naturally, the first a job seeker will see of your company is your booth and your recruiters. As such, it is important that everything looks as presentable as possible.

    Keep your booth clean and be sure that your company logo is visible from afar. You should also make sure your recruiters are dressed appropriately. If you office environment abides by a more casual dress code, then feel free to dress the part, just make sure it’s obvious to the job seeker so that they don’t get the wrong impression.

Check back tomorrow when we round off our posts on career fair tips for employers. In the meantime, are there any tips you follow when working a career fair? Let us know by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter!

Making the Most of a Career Fair (for Employers)

Our last two posts have focused on two important aspects of recruiting: making your online recruiting more effective, and writing an effective job posting.

A strong job posting is great, and so is a concentrated online recruiting presence. But sometimes, nothing beats real face-to-face interaction if your business is looking to quickly fill an open position. And for that kind of interaction, it’s hard to beat a career fair.

We actually have a career fair coming up soon–on Tuesday, September 17th, just a few weeks from now, we’re having our AIM Careerlink job fair at the Scott Conference Center in Omaha, Nebraska.

So in preparation for our upcoming career fair–and really, for any job fair that you may end up attending–we’re going to offer a few tips for employers to make the most out of a job fair.

  • Be eye-catching. At a career fair–especially a larger fair with a lot of employers–you’re, for better or worse, competing for attention with other employers. Although you certainly want to come prepared for your actual discussions with attendees to the fair, you can help attract attention to your booth with a professional, eye-catching display. Don’t be obnoxious, but do make your booth stand out from the crowd.
  • Remember the career pipeline. Even if you’re looking to hire someone right away, you shouldn’t automatically brush off anyone who isn’t immediately interested in a position. Especially in areas with local universities, you’re likely to see a lot of students in attendance. Just because those students aren’t able to start a job tomorrow doesn’t mean that they can’t be a valuable asset to your company later on. It never hurts to have a pipeline of potential employees, and keeping in touch with such attendees could end up paying off when you have more open positions later on.
  • Let people get connected. This is pretty basic, but you should give attendees several opportunities to keep in touch. Have lots of business cards prepared, have a clearly-marked sign-up sheet for interested attendees to leave their information, and try to be as accessible as possible.
  • Plan ahead. Again, this seems basic, but it’s often overlooked. Don’t go into a career fair expecting that you’ll be fine without preparation. While you shouldn’t have a script planned out for conversations with passers-by, you should at least spend some time thinking about how you’ll respond to different questions from attendees. More preparation will help you appear more professional, and will also make for a much more engaging experience between you and any potential employee that you talk to.
  • Treat your booth like a living job description. Much of our advice from yesterday’s post about writing an effective job description carries over to how you should present your company in a booth at a career fair. Be clear about what you’re looking for, highlight your company’s upsides, and perhaps most importantly, go out of your way to be personable. Career fairs are as much a social affair as they are a recruiting event, and being personable and interesting will help make a long-lasting positive impression.

Except in the most unique of cases, you probably won’t walk out of a career fair with your open position filled. But what you will have is a number of strong candidates and their resumes, and most importantly, a little bit of time spent actually getting to know people who are interested in your company.

While surfing through resumes is a great way to vet potential recruits for you new company, career fairs offer a convenient, efficient way to cover the questions-and-answers that are typically asked in an introductory interview.

By correctly preparing yourself for a career fair, you can come out of the whole experience with a pretty good idea of who you want to hire, and how they’d fit within your company. Career fairs may not be miracle work, but they’re certainly highly effective for sorting through and trying to find the right people.

You can find more information about this year’s AIM Careerlink job fair here. Employers interested in registering for the career fair can register through our registration page here. Finally, if you’re interested in learning more about the rest of AIM’s annual events, you can see our events page here.