Career fairs uniquely offer military job seekers the opportunity to gather information about career options, research the demand for their own brand of talent in various fields, make contact with certain companies, and practice networking and communication skills. So take full advantage of the benefits that job fairs have to offer, but keep in mind that making a good impression in person takes preparation.
- First compile a comprehensive list of companies represented at the event. Upon pre-registration (always pre-register), some job fair companies who specialize in military, such as CivilianJobs.com, provide you with a customized list of employers searching for candidates with your skills. Do background research on those that interest you. Be prepared to explain how you can become an asset to a company.
- Depending on the fair and how many employers interest you, you might not have time to speak with every employer, so make “A” and “B” lists of employers to meet.
- Recruiters tend to remember the first and the last people they meet. Arrive at the job fair early while recruiters are still fresh. Conversely, as the day winds down so does the candidate pool, which frees up recruiters for individualized attention and allows you to make a lasting final impression.
- Target specific employers by focusing your resume to highlight the experience most relevant to their respective businesses. If you’re looking for more than one type of position, (like marketing and human resources), two different versions of your resume may be appropriate. Because hiring managers will leave the event with a stack of resumes, be absolutely sure that your resume stands out and will carry your hard-earned, great in-person impression forward.
- Know the dress code. Some fairs are business casual; some require interview attire. If you are unsure about what to wear, contact the fair sponsor and ask.
- Rehearse a 20 to 30 second personal introduction that allows you to sell your skills and make a good impression in a short period of time. Tailor it to each of the companies on your list to include specific information about the company and how you see yourself fitting in there.
- After the career fair, follow-up with companies that interest you. Take notes on people with whom you spoke and ask each about his or her preferred method for following up on the position. Send personalized notes to thank recruiters for their time; mention something interesting you learned about their organization; and tell them you hope to hear from them soon.