Written by Julia Churan
Jessica Pierce welcomed attendees with an introduction of the Vision and Core Values of Career Connectors and the agenda for the day.
Job fairs can be overwhelming events, like speed dating for jobseekers, but being prepared and having the right expectations will make you stand out as the right candidate for your next employer.
Andy shared his wit and personal insights from being on both sides of the career search to help candidates feel confident and “win” at the job fair game.
Why do candidates go to a job fair? You won’t get a job there! To learn about top companies, make connections and impress a future employer.
Why are employers at job fairs? Not to hire! They are there for the same reasons – to learn about the job pool, meet prospective employees and show what their company offers.
12 Strategy Tricks to Approach a Job Fair
Figure out what kind of job you want, what kinds of things you like to do (take a DISC assessment) and where you see yourself working.
- Find out what employers are attending.
- Create a “short list” of the booths you want to visit. Find a map of the exhibitors, select 10 – 12 targets, so you can work from the back of the room to the front to get more quality facetime with companies. Most people will crowd the front companies right away.
- Do your homework and research your short list.
- Make prep notes and custom resumes for your short list.
- Go early!
- Resumes – Have some resume copies in case recruiters allow you to leave one. Have ones for your “short list” marked with sticky notes separating personalized ones that match various skills/traits/companies for differing job opportunities
- A portfolio stocked with several business cards, a notepad, thank you cards and a couple pens
- Answers for common questions in case you get an impromptu interview
Dress as a Professional
- Nice shoes (closed toe) — No flipflops, unless you are applying to be a lifeguard 😉
- Corporate level – suit
- Construction/Labor – polo and clean jeans
- Carry only a zippered, letter-sized portfolio
- Women – leave your purse at home or in the car trunk
- One car key – you don’t want a bulging or jingling pocket
- Leave your cell phone in the car.
- Avoid the freebie giveaways – get yourself employed and buy your own!
- Show confidence and professionalism – you are a mature adult.
- Smile and make eye contact.
- Don’t be the person pushing the baby stroller or dragging a buddy around.
Make a Strong First Connection
- Briefly introduce yourself (Practice the 30 Second Elevator Speech) Talk about your successes. Tell why you are there. Tell them our name LAST. They remember the first and last thing you say.
- Engage them with making a statement about the company (something you learned in your research).
- Why you would like to work there.
- Have the mindset of the people who work there.
- How great their products are.
- How you are a customer.
- How committed to their products you are.
- Offer them a copy of your resume. If they reject, offer your card. If they still reject return to introduce a friend and play up the company.
The Hand Shake
- Make contact – up-down, up-down and out.
- Connect with a web-to-web shake.
- Meet their grip – Strong and firm.
- No sweaty hands.
- Shake again when you say goodbye.
Listen and Take Notes
Be a Good Listener – write down keywords and names before you get to the next table and get distracted.
Watch Your Time
Target where and who you want to talk to before you go into the fair so you can make the most of your time.
- Limit your time to each booth but be there long enough to make an impression.
- Listen to conversations ahead of you. Pay attention to the terminology and don’t re-ask questions.
- Walk away from booths — if you know you will not be interested to work there or the line is too long.
- Do not hang with your buddy!
- Go home and connect on LinkedIn and Follow them on Twitter
- Next day: Email the best prospects
- Get a Second Meeting – Introduce other candidates to a booth that you feel may benefit from knowing the job seeker. If you had to walk away or they wouldn’t take your resume or card – return with someone to introduce. You reintroduce yourself. You appear helpful and eager to help the company and a buddy. Play up the value of the company to your friend. Everyone wins!
- Thank You Notes – Employers may not take a resume or even a business card, but “it would be rude to turn down a thank you card.” Return later and offer a handwritten card with another hand shake. (this is another chance to introduce yourself. ) Write something like: “NAME, It was a pleasure to meet you today, I look forward to hearing from you. I am very interested to discuss the JOB position that you have. Sincerely, John Doe, 555.555.5555, email@example.com”.
Meeting just one new person at a career fair counts as a success! Learning one new thing, you scored! Impressing one person or company, you win!
Andy Ridley serves as an enthusiastic trainer for Arizona@Work – Maricopa County, guiding seekers toward career solutions. He also coaches individuals and groups to reach goals through Becoming Ideal.
Sherri reinforced the tips that Andy shared about a job fair from her 30 years of representing employers at events.
Although the State of Arizona currently operates under a hiring freeze, there are roles that are considered critical to the function of the State which are presently being filled such as case managers and clerical. She shared great tips on hiring for the State.
How do I get a career with the State? Tailor your resume to meet the KSAs (Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities). Use the language on the description. Open the position announcements to review the skill sets. Resumes should be very detailed. Hiring managers make the decision on who to interview. Generally 3-5 candidates get seen but they only have to meet 2.
An easier way to get into the State. If you have a Bachelors or above, you can come in as a case manager. Once you are in, you are in, then you can move around. There is no requirement about how long you must stay in a position.
They offer bi-lingual stipends and tuition assistance.
Roy shared his excitement with creating a perfect fit for clients and candidates in the world of hiring. Hotfoot offers services from entry to C-level staffing. They began with a focus of manufacturing and production but have grown to supporting everything from aerospace/defense, construction management, engineering, marketing/sales, insurance and finance industries. They specialize in “Perfect Fit” staffing with an award-winning team of recruiters. They prepare applicants for interviews, do the homework with the clients and candidates to make sure there will be a long-term win for everyone.
HotFoot supports both direct hire and contract-to-hire positions and encourages individuals to get into their database of candidates. Contact them at 480-633-3392. Email a resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Schwab is one of the valued sponsors of this event and Shannon expressed their vision of bringing Wall St. to Main St. by allowing individuals to invest in changing their future.
They focus their services in the areas of Investor Services (B2C), Institutional Services (B2B) and Advisors with over 100 open opportunities between their two Phoenix offices. They include Relationship Specialists, Estate Service Professionals, as well as extensive Broker Training Program.
Their corporate culture includes giving back to the community through organizations like Junior Achievement and area Food Banks. They offer employees assessment tools to teach staff to work together most effectively and become more self-aware. Their staff has long tenure and their benefits allow employees become financially fit and have an excellent work-life balance.
To apply: tiny.cc/careerconnectors
Nationstar was unable to attend. If you are interested in learning about Nationstar Mortgage, please contact Jared Evans at 480-682-0285.
New Horizons – Phoenix is one of over 300 locations worldwide that offers professional training and development services to professionals. They are the world’s largest independent certification training organization and work with AZ@Work (WIOA) grants, GI Bill and many other government assistance programs to help professionals enhance their skills and improve their employability. They offer traditional instructor led classes (6-15 students); online LIVE Learning; and online ANYTIME (great if you need flexibility). They also have job placement assistance for their clients.
Zack offered a free full-day MS Office class to Career Connectors’ seekers. Their new location is now available near Sky Harbor. Call 480-736-9300 for a free consultation.
Jessica Pierce thanked everyone for their participation in the event, the generosity of Central Christian Church in Gilbert, the volunteers and the sponsors for making these events possible. She encouraged everyone to visit all of today’s supporters and take advantage of many of the Career Connectors’ benefits like the DISC Behavior Assessment Program, have your resume and LinkedIn profile reviewed by experts, take the time to get a professional portrait and network with other attendees to transition that next phase of your career journey.
The next Career Connectors event will be in North Phoenix on Wednesday, May 4 – Get Hired by the BEST: Advancing Your Career with a BEST Company. For additional information on this and future events, please visit our event schedule.