I’m reposting a post from awhile back, partly because it’s been a REALLY REALLY busy week already, and partly because I’m co-managing a job fair scheduled for next Wednesday, March 23, details at http://yourcareersource.com/careerf.htm, so I figure it’s apropos….
Job fairs can be helpful to you in your job search. While you can’t expect to go to a job fair and meet the Magic Job Search Genie who will grant you all your employment wishes, job fairs can be useful for networking (with other job seekers as well as employers), shmoozing with employers to get info on opportunities, and yes, even getting actual job leads.
However, as in any other professional and/or social situation in this life, there are some inappropriate job fair moves that will likely give you a bad rep. Here are some of them:
- Dressing for a day at the beach. Even though you’re not actually at a job interview, if you don’t dress as though you are, no one will be impressed. I don’t care if it’s 95 degrees out and hailing stones the size of Rotweilers. You need to dress professionally for a job fair. Bring your job fair clothes in a (professional-looking) tote and change into them before you walk in, if you must.
- Butting in line. It was rude in grade school, and it’s rude now. There are going to be lines before the employer tables, especially for the more popular companies. Deal with it.
- Rambling on until the employer’s eyes glaze over. This is bad for several reasons (in addition to the eye-glazing). One, it’s much more effective to be focused on what you have to offer, and opportunities the company may have that fit what you have to offer. So practice your elevator pitch before you chat with employers. Two, it’s rude to take up too much time when there’s a line of other job seekers. Three, you don’t want the employer to think you’re a boring bag o’ wind. Being a boring bag o’ wind won’t help you get a job. Unless you’re a politician.
- Accosting employers in the bathroom. Especially if they’re in a stall. Although come to think of it, standing next to you at a urinal is just as bad. I mean, come on. Let the poor guy piss in peace. You may think only a mentally challenged person would do this, but I’ve actually seen it, and the person who did it was clearly not mentally challenged. Horrifyingly clueless, surely, but not mentally challenged.
- Ignoring your fellow job seekers. You’re not competing for the Stanley Cup. Every last one of you is unique in what you have to offer, and even if some of you are looking for similar positions, you’ll be much better off helping each other. That’s often how job seekers get good leads. You know, networking.
- Being unprepared. Just as you would for an interview (yeah, I know you would), research each employer whose table you’re visiting. The company list and available positions are almost always available via whomever’s hosting the job fair, at least a few days prior to the event. Peer at the companies’ websites, look at the positions they’re trying to fill, and mention something specific about the company when you talk with the employer (you can prepare a cheat sheet beforehand). And of course, have your elevator pitch ready to go.
- Asking dumb questions. This follows from the previous point – if you’ve done some research on the companies you’re interested in and you’re prepared, you’re not going to be asking questions like, “What does your company do?” or “Do you have any jobs that don’t require a criminal check?”