Stand Out From the Pack
How to Stand Out from the Pack at a Job Fair
Career fairs used to be populated primarily with recent college grads eager to jump into the hiring pool. Not anymore. Now, potential hires of all ages and skill levels attend in the hope of creating a connection with a company that could eventually lead to a job, explains Jennifer Grasz, a Careerbuilder.com spokesperson. Here, the need-to-know basics, plus how to stand out from the pack.
1. Find a fair.The newspaper, job sites such as Monster.com or Careerbuilder.com, and local colleges are good places to start. Fairs generally take place at hotels or community event spaces, and some are virtual, where applicants and employers meet online in a chat room. Fairs can be either general or industry-specific — be sure the one you attend is looking for hires with your skill set.
2. Do your homework."There may be 25 companies represented, so before you go, decide on a few you're especially interested in," suggests Grasz. "Recruiters are most interested in the people who are not only relevant but also knowledgeable, so research what a company has done in the past and its plans for the future."
3. Put your best foot forward.Dress as if you were heading to an interview. Bring copies of your résumé as well as cards with your contact info (create ones for free at vistaprint.com). And arrive early to beat the crowds — you'll catch recruiters at their freshest.
4. Make a statement.Get a conversation rolling with a recruiter by commenting on a new initiative; you'll show your familiarity with the company. Then, give her a quick summary of your own professional experience. If the meeting goes well, she'll pass your name on to a hiring manager, who'll call for an official interview. When you get home, send a thank-you note or email to your contact — a smart gesture that could move your résumé to the top of the pile.
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