By Margaret Hansen
Job fairs present a short window of time to create an impression - both for you and the recruiter. And in today's job market, competition is high. In addition to dressing professionally and bringing copies of your resume, here are five additional ways to stand out at your next job fair.
1. Plan Ahead and Prioritize
Find out which companies will be at the fair and map out which ones you want to pay a visit to first. You may not get the chance to visit them all if lines are long and/or your conversations last longer than expected.
2. Research Job Openings Ahead of Time
See if your favorite companies have any jobs that interest you. Make a list of questions that you would like answered. This is your chance to speak directly to that company's representative in an effort to land an interview. Find out contact names, career paths, number of people in a certain department, or anything that's not spelled out in their job postings.
3. Get a Good Night's Sleep
Being alert and on top of your game will impress recruiters. You'll ask the right questions and establish rapport with your employers of choice. If it's a mid- to late-afternoon event, grab a bite to eat beforehand to keep your blood sugar (and energy levels) from dropping. Don't forget to keep some breath mints on hand. Or... hold the onions.
4. Network Your Way In
Perhaps a former colleague works in the same department your vying for. Ask that former colleague ahead of time what the company culture is like. Then highlight your strengths that jibe with their culture in a conversation with the recruiter. Mention your old pal as a reference (assuming you've checked with them first).
5. Keep Conversations Moving in a Positive Direction
If you run out of things to say to a recruiter, wrap things up and thank them for their time and information. Move on to the next employer booth. Wasting someone's time, being negative or complaining while others are waiting is a sure-fire way to move your resume out of consideration.
Job searching is a job in itself. If you treat a job fair as a precursor to an interview and follow the above tips, you'll more likely catch the right opportunities at the right time.