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6 Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Career Fair

career fair interview
Amanda Wilks
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Published on March 2, 2017

Vouching for the benefits of higher and continuous education, Amanda Wilks, the writer of this article, wants to make a point that both organizational skills and that extra bit of information are critical. It’s what makes the recruiter remember you.

With spring semester fully underway, many employers are attending on-campus career fairs to help with their recruiting efforts. If you’ve never been to a career fair, you may be wondering what to expect. Will you have time to meet with lots of different companies or should you focus your attention on one or two specific ones? Here’s the truth: Career fairs are basically speed dating events for job seekers.

You get five minutes to interview with a potential suitor and then you move on. It’s fast, it’s hectic and it can be a giant waste of time if you’re not properly prepared. Below are six ways you can beat out the competition and make the most of your time at the career fair.

1. Prepare an amazing elevator pitch for on-the-spot interviews

As soon as you sit down with a recruiter, you’re on the clock. Be prepared for these rapid interviews with an awesome elevator pitch. This is a short speech highlighting your skills and accomplishments. Due to the high traffic at career fairs, you may only get a few minutes to speak with your dream company. Make the most of it with a quick speech that outlines why you’re phenomenal and why they need to hire you immediately.

2. Target and research specific companies

The career fair should announce, prior to the date, which companies will be attending. Do your research and narrow down the businesses that catch your interest. Take the time to visit their websites and outline some talking points you can use when speaking with their recruiters. Kelli Phillips, an Internal Talent Acquisition Regional recruiter for Randstad USA, has 14 years’ experience in interviewing and hiring for numerous industries. She says she is impressed by candidates who familiarize themselves with the industry and are able to ask questions. It shows they are extremely interested in the position, they take initiative and are serious about the job.

3. Apply online prior to the career fair

After you’ve researched the companies you’re interested in, apply online at their website. This is because most companies use online screening tools and assessments before they even look at a candidate. By having that portion completed ahead of time, you’ll give yourself a leg up on the competition. Pro Tip: Attach your resume so the recruiter will be able to quickly match your profile with your interview.

4. Maximize your time

Career fairs are, by nature, pretty hectic. Thousands of job seekers will be waiting to speak to recruiters. The best way to maximize your time is to avoid “getting in line.” You don’t want to find yourself in a line, making the mistake of going table to table. If you follow the crowd, you will find yourself standing in line for hours to talk to companies you aren’t even that interested in. Instead, unless told otherwise, go straight to your number one company. If someone is already interviewing with them, go to your second choice and so on until you find an available recruiter or a shorter line.

5. Network with other job seekers

Sure, it may seem counterintuitive, but getting hired is more about who you know than what you know. As you’re talking to another job seeker, they might reveal that they are leaving a position you may be perfect for. So get the jump on the job hunt by sending your resume to that soon-to-be-available job. Talk to everyone you run into, and use the opportunity to perfect your elevator pitch. You never know where your next job opportunity will pop up.

6. Don’t see a job you’re interested in? Don’t give up!

If you’ve researched all the companies at the fair and haven’t found anything you’re interested in, don’t give up. In fact, meeting with recruiters is a great way to get the inside scoop on job they have yet to post. As an article in the Wall Street Journal recently noted, as many as 80 percent of open jobs are not posted.

Bobbie Deleon has been a Client Program Supervisor at Adecco Employment Services for 12 years and she is responsible for hiring and maintaining staff for her professional clients. She says she loves working career fairs because if she finds a person who really shines in an interview, she can take their resume and personally speak to her clients. She literally does the job searching for them. If you have some time on your hands, and you’re willing to take a chance, you may just be the fit for a job that isn’t advertised.

With the pool of educated job seekers growing larger every day, the rules of recruiting have changed. Career fairs may, at first glance, seem overwhelming, chaotic and hectic. However, by utilizing these tips and tricks of the trade, you’ll will find that they can lead to opportunities you may not have known existed.

Amanda Wilks Contributor

<p>Vouching for the benefits of higher and continuous education, Amanda Wilks wants to make a point that both organizational skills and that extra bit of information are critical. It’s what makes the recruiter remember you. So never stop learning, you’ll never stop growing!</p>

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