iPrep In Pieces
       
  •  An Opportunity to be screened on something other than your resume


Find out in advance which employers will be attending.  Check the website of the
sponsoring event planner for a list of attending employers.  Determine if any of those
employers match your career goals and interests.  Not all of them will be corporations.  Keep
an open mind as some may be government agencies, schools, and non-profit companies.  


Research each company in advance.  Visit the websites of the employers that will be
there and check for openings that they have posted on their website.  If the job you want is not
posted, but you are still interested in working for that company, then you should still attend the
job fair.  This is a chance to meet with a company recruiter and expand your network.  This is
also an unpressured chance for them to meet you.   

Go to any job fair where the employers and their jobs interest you, regardless of the specialty
of the job fair.   For example, the job fair maybe a health care job fair and your  background is
in accounting or IT or marketing, but not for a health care facility.   If the company website is
hiring for positions that match your best skills, attend the job fair and make an introduction.  

Depending on how many employers interest you, you might not have time to speak with them
all.  Try not to rush a conversation with a company recruiter so that you can meet with every
company on your list.  Do enough research to set priorities and make a list of your top
employers to meet.  


Dress appropriately.  This IS an interview.  You may not get hired at a job fair but you can be
eliminated.  Follow interview dress codes and review and research interview tips.   
(Infoployment has/will have several topics posted on these subjects in iPrep-in-Pieces)


Prepare a 10 to 20 second introduction about yourself to use when you first walk up to the
table/booth.   Practice it until you are comfortable with it. You don't want to sound like you are
reading a script. You want to sound conversational.  Be aware that most company recruiters
may take control of the conversation quickly so you may do more listening than speaking.  


Be prepared to interview.  But don’t expect to be interviewed and don’t expect the company
recruiter to be “all about you!”  Many job fairs arrange for onsite interview space.  If the fair is
crowded, most company recruiters will not take the time to interview onsite.

The purpose of a job fair for the employer is to get as many resumes as possible to fill the
positions they currently have open.  It’s all about them.


Have plenty of copies of your resume. You might need to prepare more than one version
of your resume.   Always take paper copies of your resume, using a pad-folio to keep them
crisp and unfolded.  Even if you previously submitted your resume to the employer, they will
not have it with them when they meet you now.  

There are a few job fair sponsors that provide resume books for their exhibitors, the
employers.   This is when the job fair event planners solicit a copy of your resume in advance
of the show.  You will know if this is the case when you research which companies are
attending the job fair.  Your resume and every other resume submitted are given to each
company attending, usually online.  Even if you submitted your resume to the resume book,
still be prepared to present the company recruiter with a copy of your resume.  The company
will usually not have access to the resume book while speaking to you.

If you're looking for more than one job title or type of position you may need two or more
different versions of your resume, each tailored to support the different job title.  Keep notes
for yourself, as to which resume was presented to which company.  You will need to know
when you follow-up and you MUST know if they call you.

You don’t need an individualized resume for each employer at a the job fair, although you can
have a specific resume for a specific company that you know will be there, that you have a
definitive interest in.   However, when you speak to a company recruiter and say that you're
interested in a certain job title, don't hand the employer a resume that has nothing to do with
that kind of work.


What do you do if the employer asks you to apply online?  Some employers will not or
cannot accept your paper resumes at the job fair and will ask you to apply online.    This does
not mean that they are not interested in you.  The company recruiters will be taking note of the
candidates they are interested in, but they may have to follow certain procedures.   

Their reasons may be:
To make use of their computerized ATS – Applicant Tracking System
They may have to track and record every applicant.
To comply with federal data regulations
In February 2006, federal regulations attempted to define who is and who is not
a job candidate.  This had a direct impact on how employers track online job
seekers.   In order to comply with these regulations, many employers are
requiring all job applicants to apply for jobs online, either on the employer's web
site or at another pre-designated job site.


Don't think of the fair as a social event. Don't make the mistake of interacting on a
common, familiar level, forgetting that you are being judged.  You are being evaluated on your
potential to function in the work environment and on your communication skills.


Carry a simple pad-folio to keep your resumes organized and ready to be
distributed.
A pad-folio is a simple hard-sided folder that can be purchased inexpensively at
any office supply store.    Do NOT use folders with any type of print or logo or sports team,
etc.  Be prepared for employers to give you literature, business cards and give-away items
(pens, candies, notepaper, etc.).   You need to look organized because organizational skills
are an important asset in an employee.  Do not have your pockets bulging or your hands full
with the give-away items.  
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