by Darlene Zambruski, CPRW, SME
Traditionally, job seekers have answered newspaper and online job postings, used networking contacts, or have simply submitted their resumes to large companies, hoping that something will be available that matches their skills and needs.
In today’s tight employment market, an additional option that may quickly maximize your search is the job fair.
Job fairs are usually held at major hotels or convention centers and offer a prospective candidate numerous opportunities in various industries. For example, a recent job fair in Boston showcased these fields:
· Insurance Sales & Marketing
· Healthcare & Human Services
The advantage to having numerous industries represented is that a candidate in career transition (accounting to sales) or one at the entry-level stage (newly graduated with an accounting degree, but willing to accept a general office position) may find employment faster through a job fair than sending out resumes to numerous postings in one industry.
An additional advantage is personal contact. A firm handshake, engaging smile, and winning personality cannot be translated through a resume attached to an email. If you’re able to spend some quality time with the company representative, your resume may very well merit additional consideration.
How can you make the most of a job fair? By being well prepared.
It’s not enough to simply show up in appropriate business attire, resume in hand. Once you’re committed to attending the fair, draw up a list of job-related questions that can be asked of the company representative. These questions should focus on what you can do for the company rather than what the company can do for you.
For example, if you’re an accountant a good question would be, “What is your company’s time table for staff accountants to become CPAs? I plan on taking the test this June.” (That data should also be on your resume). Not only does this show that the candidate is interested in industry certification, but that a timetable has already been established. This is far better than saying, “I’m applying for the staff accounting position. How much does it pay?”
Additionally, weave into the conversation as much as you can about your qualifications and accomplishments. It’s never enough to say that you know the field – many candidates know the field. It’s those individuals who have excelled professionally or academically who are offered the position.