By KATHI WEILBACHER
The Jobs Plus 2013 Job Fair will be held Thursday, Sept. 26, from 1 to 5 p.m., at the Gateway Convention Center in Collinsville. For a list of employers represented at the Job Fair, visit www.mcetd.org.
Here are some keys to successfully navigate a career or job fair. Follow these simple rules and you should be successful during this phase of your job search.
Do have a specific strategy for maximizing your time at the event? Research basic information about each company you hope to interview with at the job fair. A common question from career fair recruiters is, “why do you want to work for our company?”
Don’t just drop your resume on the recruiter’s table and walk off. Be prepared with a one-minute “commercial” about yourself that focuses on the unique benefits you can offer the employer. Introduce yourself, demonstrate knowledge of the company, express interest in the company and tell what you have to offer the company.
Be prepared to talk about your work experience, skills, and abilities. College students should be prepared for a question about their GPA by some recruiters.
Dress professionally and wear comfortable shoes, conservative is always a safe choice.
Don’t be afraid or intimidated by the recruiter. They have a job to do — to meet and screen candidates. Remember the keys to successful interviewing include: acting and being assertive, a firm handshake, a warm smile, eye contact, and a strong voice.
Use the recruiter’s name several times during your conversation, even if you have to keep looking at the recruiter’s name tag. Do not ask questions any good job-seeker should know, such as “What does your company do?” Do your homework and revisit the first tip above. Have a few questions prepared for each recruiter.
Get a business card from each recruiter and be sure to follow up. Some experts say to call and leave a message on their voicemail right after the job fair, but at a minimum you should send a thank you. If leaving a voice message, be sure to speak slowly and repeat your name and phone number several times. The recruiter has met many people at the job fair and you want him to recognize you and not have to replay the message to understand your name and contact number.
Rein in bad habits like playing with your hair, chewing gum, fidgeting, rocking from side to side, acting distracted, rubbing your nose, etc., and remove filler words from your vocabulary like “um,” “like,” and “you know.”
Bring enough copies of your resume to the event and bring different versions of your resume if you are searching for different types of jobs.
Do not just walk up to a booth and interrupt a current conversation; wait your turn and be polite. Take advantage of the time you have with each recruiter to build rapport, but do not monopolize their time.
Do not say anything negative to the recruiter about your college, previous jobs, companies, or supervisors.
Don’t eliminate companies because they are recruiting for positions outside your field; take the time to network with the recruiter and get the name of a hiring manger for the particular career field you are interested in.
Be sure to ask about the hiring process of each company, but don’t ask too many questions about salaries, vacation time, and other benefits. Take the initiative and ask about the next step in the process and be prepared to follow-up all job leads. Ask what the time frame is and if you can call or write to the company yourself.
Don’t waste the opportunity to network, not only with the recruiters, but with fellow job-seekers and other professionals in attendance at the career fair.
Recognize that companies attend job fairs to increase awareness, provide career information and fill jobs. You will have success if you are ready, willing and able, target your efforts, know about the company, have your resume ready and easy to get to and do not waste time walking around and looking. For additional information on how to find and prepare for jobs, visit www.illinoisworknet.com.
Kathi Weilbacher is a career specialist at the Southwestern Illinois WorkNet Center located in the Monroe County Courthouse in Waterloo, offering assistance with employment and training. She can be reached at 939-3332 or email@example.com.