how to work a job fair3 Ways To Squeeze A Whole Lot More Jobs Out Of A Job Fair
Mike Bowman  

Job fairs are an excellent way to get your resume directly into the hands of hiring managers. It's rare that a job seeker will have a chance to meet many hiring managers in one morning, so it is important to prepare appropriately for the event. While they don't advertise it, employers have 3 things on their mind when standing at their tables at the job fair. They are:

1. "Have something to say to me when you walk up to my table."

2. "Don't walk by me. Come on up. I probably have other opportunities available you don't know about."

3. "We both know why we are here, so feel free to ask me about the hiring process and follow ups."

Rehearse your approach. Many job seekers struggle with the introduction / elevator speech part of the job fair because they are nervous, but remember nervousness is usually caused by a lack of preparation. If the job seekers stresses over the introduction too much he can appear to lack confidence. Andrea Stearns, a District Sales Coordinator from Aflac in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, says, "Sell me. Be ready to tell me why I should hire you."

While confidence is attractive and draws people in, your nervousness can make people uncomfortable and unsure about you. To make the introduction less stressful and get the conversation going, be prepared with ice breaker questions that start with "I see that you...." "I heard you say...." "I noticed.....", for example.

Approach every employer. There are several reasons for doing this, but perhaps the two most important are 1) getting face to face meetings with decision makers at companies you are interested in working for, as well as, 2) discovering unadvertised job opportunities. Bobbi Englert, a corporate recruiter from ServiceLink, says, "I often see job seekers only visit the well-known brands at a job fair and bypass everyone else. That is actually a mistake because many companies have unadvertised jobs and internships and if you don't talk to the employer you may miss out on a great opportunity." It is very difficult for a job seeker to find the decision maker in the hiring process when relying solely on a web search. By approaching every employer you are meeting connected people you may not have had access to otherwise, and you will have an opportunity to ask about other positions that many not have been publicly announced.

This is important because most hiring managers look internally for candidates (or within their own professional networks) for candidates and do not advertise the majority of their open positions online. At a job fair you will have an opportunity to ask about all the positions the company is planning on filling.

Ask for a job interview. If you are hitting it off with a recruiter or you know you are a great candidate for their open position, don't be shy about asking for a job interview. Its not a secret why everyone is there. The recruiters need to hire and the job seekers needs work. Asking for an opportunity to provide more information about yourself or show the hiring manager how you can solve their current work problems demonstrates initiative and will set you apart from other applicants.

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