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Career Fairs: Are They Worth the Time? Part 1
There was a career fair at the Calgary convention center last week. There is another career fair at the fairgrounds this weekend and what about the one at the downtown hotel? Everywhere you look there are career fairs on the horizon as spring is the season for these events.
So are career fairs worth your time? Can you really get a job from a career fair or is it just a huge networking event? Actually that is what most career fairs are best for — networking to get interviews with potential employers. Most people will not get hired at a career fair, but many will make the contact that leads to their next job.
Career fairs can mean hundreds or thousands of hungry job seekers all looking for that one interview that will change their lives. Even if you know that an interview at a career fair is not likely to lead to a job, there certainly are things you can do to improve your odds.
What You Should Do Before the Career Fair
- Research the companies coming to the fair. Make sure the ones you want to talk to are there. Go to the company web sites and find out what jobs are open.
- Devise a plan for your time at the career fair. Go to your top priority companies first, then work your way through the rest.
- Prepare a short presentation (no more than 30 seconds) about your training and experience. Stress accomplishments. You won’t use this verbatim, but it will help you be comfortable when talking with the recruiters.
- Review your resume and make sure it contains the keywords the employers are using in their job descriptions. Make separate resumes for the priority companies.
- Dress for success: Make sure you know what the proper attire is for the groups you will be seeing. Business attire is always acceptable. Conservative suits and ties are best.
- Make sure you have the tools you need such as your business cards, portfolio and resumes. Bring a pen and notepad for taking notes and getting names of anyone you do not get a business card from.
- Get a good night’s sleep the night before the career fair and try not to be too nervous. The more prepared you are by your work in the first item above, the easier it will be to sleep and the less nervous you will be.
Career fairs are indeed worth your time if you do the work needed before you go to one. This preparation is vital to your success. Without it you could wander around the hall all day not sure which companies to talk to, who has jobs you are interested in and which recruiters specialize in your field. Do your homework and the entire process will be easier. In part two of this series we will look at what to do when you are at the job fair. Part three will cover what to do when the career fair is over.