Career fairs get a little chaotic. There’s tons of people, and there’s a lot going on. You aren’t the only person attending the career fair in an attempt to find a great job. There’s a lot of competition around you, and you need to stand out from the rest. If you want to improve your chances of landing a great job, it’s all in the way you prepare for the event. This isn’t like a regular job interview – it’s a whole host of possibilities, and you need to know how to navigate your options.
Of course you know that jeans and plain old shirt aren’t proper attire for a career fair. You’ve probably planned to wear something a little more formal. The only problem with formal clothes is that they’re often hot and uncomfortable – especially the shoes. Dress business casual. You’re going to be moving around a lot, and you might be there for a few hours. The last thing you want is sore feet and sweat stains in your clothes. If your clothes are making you miserable, your potential employers will be able to see the pain in your face.
Carry Some Materials
Carry your resume and your business cards with you. You’ve probably already considered that. If your resume is bulky and your business cards are plain, you might want to update them before you go. Condense your resume down to one page, and bring a couple of variants if you’re interested in working in several different sectors. Think of these variations as tailored handouts. Create a memorable business card that tells potential employers where they can find you on social media – they may go back to the office and check out your qualifications.
Socialize As Much as Possible
Talk to everyone. You won’t have enough time to have in depth conversations with everyone you meet, but a polite introduction can take you places. You never know what kind of leads everyone may have. You can even discover job openings that haven’t been publicly advertised. Networking offline is just as important (if not more important) than networking on the internet. This is your chance to meet people face to face and make a great first impression.
Use Your Elevator Pitch
Recruiters are expecting to talk to dozens of people while they’re at a career fair. They don’t have a long time to sit down with everyone. This is exactly why you need to perfect your elevator pitch. An elevator pitch doesn’t have anything to do with elevators, but rather how long it takes to ride in one. Figure out everything you can say to promote yourself, and condense it down to the length of your average ride in an elevator. You have thirty seconds or so to make your key points. Deliver your pitch with your business card and a copy of your resume, so your potential employers will see the big picture.
Look in Unusual Places
Don’t go into a career fair with a narrow focus. You never know who is hiring for what. If you’re looking for a position in social media management, you might feel inclined to check out a tech startup. In reality, everyone has a social media presence these days. You can probably find the position you’re looking for through a small restaurant chain or even a hobby shop. Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path – you’ll never really know unless you ask.
Career fairs are overflowing with opportunity, as long as you know how to approach them. Spend some time updating your materials and practicing what you’d like to say before you go. There’s no such thing as being over prepared – especially if it can help you score your dream job.