How to take advantage of Job fairs/Career fairs in USA
What makes career fairs so valuable? Career fairs are one of the few places where recruiters and students who are job seekers can meet and interact in person and engage in a candid discussion before a full formal interview. The first meeting in any business relationship is always important – but the atmosphere in a career fair
makes the whole process very informal and creates a foundation for successful interactions. At the same time, if a student makes a mistake, there is a fair chance that it will go unnoticed or any potential damage is limited.
For international students pursuing Masters in USA, every relevant career fair, whether organized within the campus or on a national level platform is of utmost importance. You never know what opportunities will be in store for you or an employer may be looking out for a particular skill you are proficient in. International students must ensure to seize every networking opportunity to give themselves the maximum chance of landing up a job, if not the dream job.
Acing the Job Fair
Dress for Success:
First impressions are important. While campus attire is acceptable for fairs, you will probably be most comfortable if you at least dress in “business casual.”. Get there early, and come prepared: It is recommended arriving at the beginning of the event, when it’s often less crowded. Also early in the day, the recruiters aren’t burnt out yet from talking to tons of students. It’s better to stand in a queue outside so you can enter right away than arrive later and being stuck with long lines at each table.
Make sure to carry extra copies of your resume, a few pens, a notepad, and a bunch of business cards that include your name, your email address, and cell phone number. Sometimes bringing “mini-resume” cards can be an efficient way to sum up your candidacy.
Research Companies and Target Your Efforts:
Most job fairs and career expos have information on participating companies on the job fair website. Depending on your industry and interests, you should select a portfolio of companies that you would target. It makes no sense to target many companies as you will end up standing in the line leading to their stall most of your time instead of utilizing it to engage in insightful discussions.
Pick three to five employers you want to focus on and do your homework. Get yourself up to date on the company news, follow the companies on social media, and see whether they’ve posted any relevant jobs online. By reading those job descriptions, you will get a fair idea about the specific skills they are looking out for.
Master the Pitch and Nail the
It is imperative that you create a good impression quickly as you will not get much time with one person. Practice your “Elevator Pitch” that summarizes your skills and experience so you’re ready to promote your candidacy to prospective employers.
Be enthusiastic in explaining explain who you are, what your skills are, and describe your career goals. Consider even writing a one-page letter explaining why you’re a good fit for the company, you might be the only student who will do it, and it shows you really know the company. Finding ways to weave in company news-“I saw the news of the new CFO joining. How do you think that will change the direction of the company?” Know how to circle back to your skills- “I read about your expansion in New Your City. I’d love to work in that market. Do you anticipate an entry-level position there?”
Attend a Workshop:
If there are workshops or seminars, make sure to attend them. In addition to getting job search advice, you’ll have more opportunities to network. Be ready to meet and chat with new people and hand out your business cards.
Network, network and NETWORK:
While you’re waiting in line, utilize that time to talk to others and exchange business cards. You never know who might be able to help with your job search. Along the same lines, remember to stay polite and professional.
Collect Business Cards:
Collect business cards so you have the contact information for the hiring managers you met at the job fair. Also make sure that you hand over your own business card to everyone you interacted at the fair. Compile this information into a contact list and use it to connect on LinkedIn.
It’s hard to keep track of what you have discussed when you’re meeting with multiple employers in a busy environment. Whenever you get a chance, jot down notes on the back of the business cards you have collected or on your notepad, so you have a reminder of whom you spoke to about what.
Personalize the Thank You Note:
Take time out to send a brief follow-up thank-you note or email to the company representatives you met at the job fair. It’s crucial to get the hiring managers’ contact information. But at the same time, the recruiter will be getting many such thank you notes. So its imperative to stand out and personalize the note. Remembering a conversation can be helpful for building rapport and making future contact easy and your notes will come in handy here.
Be Ready to Interview: While on-the-spot interviews are not a certainty, there is a possibility that they can happen. You should be prepared for a short interview if an employer asks. Before entering the fair, develop your responses to common interview questions.
Beware the Sales Pitch:
Be sure to distinguish between an organization that can actually help you land a job and one that just wants to sell you something. Don’t fall for something which you
might regret later wasting your time and energy.
Be Respectful and Courteous:
Don’t just drop your resume on the recruiter’s table and walk off. Some employers bring large quantities of print materials/goodies clearly intended for students to take. Always check with employers before taking materials from their tables and don’t take materials still packed in boxes.
Eliminate Bad Habits:
Don’t bring bad habits such as playing with your hair, chewing gum, fidgeting, rocking from side-to-side, acting distracted, rubbing your nose, etc.
Don’t use filler words such as “um”, “like”, “you know.”
Be Positive Always:
Avoid saying anything negative to the recruiter about your college or previous jobs, companies, or supervisors.
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