“Outside the Box” Approach to Career Fair

In years past, Career Fair was a time for job seekers to speak with employers face-to-face and present a resume to hopefully result in an interview and potential offer.  With the Internet and movement to online resume submissions, many employers—certainly not all—have stopped accepting the paper resume at Career Fairs using their online system. 

With this latest trend, job seekers often ask if attending Career Fairs is worth the time.  My answer is YES.  To use a corporate buzz phrase (I try not to use them often), think “outside the box”.  Look beyond immediate gratification.  Career Fairs are well worth your time.  Let’s look at a few scenarios that prove my point.

  1.  You walk up to a career fair booth and strike up a conversation with the person at the booth; however, the representative cannot take your paper resume.  You are directed to apply online.  Okay.  Proceed as directed, but please continue to use the time with this employer to ask further questions about the position, career path and company in general.  Look for a nametag, and write down the employer representative’s name and a few notes about your conversation.  After the Fair, send a targeted resume and cover letter to the representative you met along with a few points from your conversation.  You can find the address online or call the company’s corporate general number.  This information is extremely easy to find.  You will be surprised. 
  2. You walk up to a booth, and the employer representative quickly informs you that the company is only attending the Fair to fill specific positions which does not pertain to your functional interest.  DO NOT WALK AWAY!  Stay for a few moments to either ask for the name of the proper person for you to contact or at least ask a few questions about the company.  Then when you return home, either write a letter to the contact name you were given or network your way to the correct contact.  Write a targeted resume and cover letter and be sure to note your conversation with the company representative at the Fair. 
  3. You walk up to a booth, and the employer representative is the correct person for you to contact yet knows that the company will not be hiring for your area of interest right now.  Once again, DO NOT WALK AWAY!  Stay and talk with this employer.  Communicate your interest in the company.  The reason that company is there is to build relationships for the future; however, many job seekers do not take advantage of this opportunity at Career Fairs.  This is the perfect example of how relationship building turns into opportunity for the future.  You will be an A-Lister with this company for the future.  And remember to contact this employer after the Fair and continue to build your professional relationship.

Job seekers should use every opportunity to learn, to network, and to make the best impression possible.  Any face time you can get with an employer is well worth your time, money and effort.  The key to Career Fair success is thinking “outside that box.”


5 thoughts on ““Outside the Box” Approach to Career Fair

  1. Kirk Baumann

    Great post, Cindy! All are good ways to maximize your career fair experience. A few comments of my own:

    -SOME companies can’t “officially” take your resume because a resume received counts as an application. But, don’t let that stop you from BRINGING resumes and OFFERING them to the recruiters. They’re able to look them over as you speak with them. Even if they require an online application, most recruiters still like to receive paper resumes. Again – they just can’t count them as an application (so don’t count yourself in until you apply online as directed).

    -It’s not all about the FREE stuff at career fairs. Sure, every company has the junk on their table, but how many stress balls, frisbees, reusable shopping bags, etc do you (and your friends, children, grandchildren, neighbor, co-workers….) NEED? You’re there for a job, right? Remember WHY you’re there – if it’s for the trinkets, you’re there for the wrong reason.

    -FOLLOW UP. I can’t stress just how important this is! After speaking with a recruiter, ask for a business card so you can follow up. It’s also a good idea to ask if it’s ok to follow up via email and WHEN. That way, you’re not being a nuisance. Believe me, a handwritten thank-you note goes a long way. But, so does 15 phone calls and emails….that just takes you in the wrong direction. 🙂

    All in all, great post! Keep up the good work!

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