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Job Fair Cheatsheet

We've put together a great "cheatsheet" with tons of tips and advice for making your job fair visit a successful one.

Job Fairs can be busy and noisy places and your goal is to stand out from the crowd. How do you do that? Here is our cheat sheet for standing out at any job fair. While it may seem the day of the job fair itself is the most important, the truth is, all these steps are crucial to success.

Plan Ahead

* Pre-register for the event. That way you can maximize your time in the event on your goal…getting a job.
* Know who will be there and rank who you want to meet with in order from most important to least. This way, should you run out of time, you will have visiting the companies you wanted to the most.
* Do your research. Once you know who will be there and you want to meet with research them. If you already know about the company and what positions it has open, you will be well ahead of most of your fellow job fair attendees.
* Practice marketing yourself. You will only have a short time with each employer to “sell” yourself. Think about what you want to say, have tangible reasons why they should hire you over others and practice your pitch out loud and to someone. The more comfortable you are with your pitch, the smoother the day will go.
* Prepare yourself to answer common questions like, “What brings you here today?” They seem easy enough…but you should be clear with your answer.
* Prepare and memorize smart questions to ask employers. Here are some of the best we have come across:

What are the opportunities for advancement at your company?
What type of training programs do you offer?
What are the skills & attributes you value most in your employees?
How do you see someone like me contributing to your company?
What are the biggest challenges for this position?
What is your company culture like?
What do you enjoy most about working for this company?
What are the next steps in the hiring process?
May I contact you with further questions?

Stand Out During the Job Fair

* Dress professionally as if you were going to your first day of work. Some common pitfalls – wrinkled clothing, inappropriate jewelry, scuffed up shoes, hair not combed well – and be sure to avoid these.
* Smile, shake hands firmly, make eye contact, use the recruiters name during your conversation.
* Be aware of any bad habits you may have like biting your lip, playing with your hair, saying “um” before each answer, and be sure to avoid them throughout the day.
* Listen…really listen. While you will have your pitch and questions ready for the employer, it’s more important to respond correctly to their questions. So listen to them and be sure before you answer that your answer is relevant to what was asked. A few seconds of silence after a question is fine, so you can really think of what your want to answer with.
* Do not interrupt. Let the employer finish their sentence before answering. If you are at the booth of an employer you really want to meet, be sure not to interrupt a conversation they are in just to introduce yourself. Wait until they are finished.

* Be personable. Hiring isn’t all about skills, it’s also about personality and fit. Be ready to answer some personal questions as well about hobbies and interests.
* Be enthusiastic! The employer is meeting hundreds of people. Wow them with your interest and enthusiasm for this opportunity to meet with them.
* Also be positive. Bad mouthing a previous employer is a bad idea and won’t be looked upon favorably.
* Be sure you bring more than enough resumes, you never know when an unexpected opportunity may present itself and you want to be ready. Also consider bringing a career portfolio, if appropriate. If you are looking for work in a field you have already worked in, bringing in relevant samples of work you have already done and references from your relevant managers.
* Be sure to ask smart questions. Questions that could easily be researched online like “What does your company do?” are the kinds of questions not to ask. They will make you stand out, but not in a positive way.
* It is good to ask questions about the hiring process, but don’t go too deep into the details on items like vacation time, salaries, etc. That is for the next step
* While you have your list of employers you want to meet with, be sure also to walk the aisles and engage additional companies that you don’t know about. That company could just be an excellent fit for you.
* On the flip side…if you are talking with an employer that you clearly have no interest in, be polite, but cut the talk short. You want to maximize your time with those you want to work for.
* Make time to network with fellow job seekers. They may have valuable knowledge on employers and opportunities to share.
* Leave time near the end to re-visit employers you really want to talk with more. Thank them again for their time and leave a lasting impression near the end of the job fair.

Follow Up

* Be sure to follow up with a thank you either by telephone or with a thank you note. Those stand out vs. following up with an email. The follow up should be very timely - a phone call the night of the job fair or mailing the Thank You card the following day. The longer it takes, the more time the recruiter has to forget the impression you made.

* Research the recruiters on LinkedIn and see if you have any mutual connections to them or the company. If so, you may want to reach out to your contacts to have them contact the recruiter on your behalf.