2. Fair’s Fair: How to get careers fairs right

Mon, 28/05/2012 - 16:31 -- The Recruiter

This week, the government and water boards have announced that we are heading for a drought – hosepipe bans and short showers are on their way this summer, if it doesn’t pour down soon.

With the economy still uncertain, there is a shortage of jobs around, but there’s absolutely no drought in jobs fairs – the Recruiter goes to at least one or two a week.

I wanted to give you some do’s and don’ts to make the best use of these events. Remember, a jobs fair is your first chance to impress a future employer, so make a note of these tips – they might just help you get that job you want.

Firstly, focus. Remember that this is your first chance to make a good impression – or a bad one. Think about what you are going to wear, what you need to take with you (a few copies of your CV/contact details may be helpful, and a pen for filling in forms). If you work in an industry where particular certificates are required (such as driving or security), take these along with you, too.

I’m going to notice potential recruits who are organised and those who aren’t. You’ll look keen if you’re smartly dressed, well presented and have information to hand. If you turn up in your casual wear, haven’t shaved and are chewing gum, I’ll notice that, too, for all the wrong reasons.

Secondly, look up employers in advance. Often, organisers will advertise which employers will be attending, or at least the sectors covered. It’s worth spending a bit of time the day before looking up companies and what they do, so you have some questions to ask and know what type of roles they may have.

You’re not going to impress an employer if you don’t know what they do. Here’s a genuine conversation between an employer (me) and a potential employee:

The Recruiter: “So, what are you looking to do?”

Jobseeker: “Don’t know. What have you got?”

The Recruiter: “We’ve got lots of roles including …”

Jobseeker: “Nah. Got anything else?”

Jobs fairs are busy places. You’ve just wasted their time and your time. If you want to work in a particular sector, customer service or retail say, target fairs and employers who you know offer those roles.

Thirdly, outsell your competition. It’s your first chance to sell yourself to someone who could be offering you a job. You might want to practice a ‘pitch’ which includes your skills and qualities – alternatively, prepare some answers to questions employers are likely to ask – about your work history, for example. Keep your answers short and to the point. I like keen people, but will have a queue of people to see, so can’t spend half an hour talking to you (that’s what interviews are for).

Fourthly, obey all instructions! If an employer asks you to complete an application or registration form on the day, make sure you fill it in as fully as possible. I often have jobseekers ask me if they have to fill in the whole thing. Well, we wouldn’t ask for the information if we didn’t need it!

If you don’t feel able to complete a form then and there (if you have difficulty reading or writing, for example), ask whether you can take the form away and return it to them at a later stage. You don’t have to tell the employer why – just tell them that you’d like more time to consider your response, if you like.

Lastly, don’t forget to follow up. If an employer tells you about upcoming jobs, follow them up. You may also want to drop the employer a line and remind them that you have spoken. We will see hundreds of people at every event – it’ll do no harm to keep you in the front of an employer’s mind.

You should follow up a few days after the event. Being keen is good – but calling the HR department minutes after you’ve spoken to an employer will just cause confusion. If you ring or e-mail a couple of days later, they will have updated their databases and your CV might even move up the list!

So:

Focus before and during the fair

Look up who’s going to be at the event

Outsell your competition by presenting yourself well

Obey the instructions employers give you; and

Don’t forget to follow up

FLOOD. Easy to remember, and it might just solve these drought problems. I hope your job offers start to pour in.

That’s all for this week. Happy job hunting!

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