How to prepare for a career fair

 

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Learn how to stand out in the sea of wandering job fair lemmings and be one of the few candidates who lands an interview at a career fair.

For most companies with a booth at a career fair, it doesn’t matter if they see 100 or 500 candidates, they are happy to get one, maybe two hires out of a day on the road. Many small to middle-sized companies won’t have many more openings. Large companies like Amazon may have 1,000 intern openings.

Most candidates that attend a career fair treat it like a car/wedding/home show. As experienced recruiters, the job fair to us is one of the easiest places to land an interview. Why? Because you have the opportunity to talk directly with the recruiter or a hiring manager.

Career fairs are not car/wedding/home shows. Career fairs are interviews.

Do not treat career fairs as go-sees or information gathering events. Treat these fairs as interviews. The people behind these booths are recruiters and hiring managers.

Underneath that tablecloth-draped table is two cardboard boxes, and if you are lucky, there are three. One is a “round file” (aka, a recycling bin), the second is labeled “maybe” and the third is a box that says, “call tomorrow”.

The career fair stats

  • 90% of candidates are dressed like they are going to a home/car/wedding show.
  • 85% of the candidate will hand over their resume and expect someone to read it right there and pitch them questions. They will stand there silently waiting for someone to say something. Make a move!
  • 60% of candidates don’t have the initiative to even come up to the booth. They meander along the “outskirts” of the booth space hoping that someone will notice them. They are either scared, shy or don’t know what this looks like from the company’s POV. These candidates don’t stand a chance if they’re trying to network in with the hottest companies at the show and the booth is crowded. These sheep are not even getting through the line for the Frisbees given away on college campuses. Companies make it a point to stand in front of the booth to connect with the sheep. They need accountants, statisticians, developers and other professions who may lack the “outgoing gene”.
  • 33% don’t have a resume. They are here to “check out companies” and apparently think companies will be on the lookout for their online application or remember them from the other 2,000 people they see when they check email next week. C’mon!

Take a gander at this post for some thoughts on preparing for interviews

Dating Example: 

When we show up on a first date or a blind date, we don’t come unprepared. We think about how we want to present ourselves, what we want to learn about our date, and what we want to share. We need to look like we are taking this seriously and give a damn! This can be speed dating where we learn about 20 different people and wish we had an hour of our life back, or it can be a meaningful first date because we did a little pre-work.

Key Takeaway: Job fairs are not casual affairs. These are professional interviews and we have direct access to recruiters and hiring managers looking to make a hire. 

 

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