I attended the Eures job fair at Gatwick last week, where I delivered four workshops for job seekers. The event was busy with candidates and companies promoting their vacancies. During the breaks, I noticed that many of the attendees were walking round collecting flyers, free pens and badges. I've attended many job fairs over the years, and my observations have been the same. It got me to thinking – did they all really, honestly get the most out of the event? I'm not convinced.
There will be many more job fairs in the UK before the end of the year, so should you choose to attend some, here's 6 tips to making the most of job fairs and recruitment events.
1. Have a plan
Decide what you want to achieve from the job fairs and make a plan. It is easy just to turn up and browse, but think of it like the difference between window shopping and purchasing a well thought out, high quality product. What you get out of the event is the “product.” Take the time to plan what your desired outcome is, whether it is a job, networking contacts or an outlet to practise your confidence and conversations with employers. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
2. Check the exhibitor list
Most job fairs will advertise the list of exhibitors before the event either on their website or promotional materials. Use this to your advantage and find out which employers and companies will be in attendance, so you can plan your strategy.
3. Do some research
Conduct some background research on the people you plan to visit, so that you can have good quality conversations and a list of questions to ask. Visit their website if they have one. Ask questions about the company culture, the positions they recruit for, where you might fit within the organisation and their recruitment processes.
4. Take your CV and/ or business card
Make sure that you can be contacted after the job fairs by taking your CV and/ or a business card. Take a folder with you, so that the document doesn't get crumpled up in your bag or pocket. Ask the companies you are visiting to read your CV while you are there and ask for feedback. This might take a bit of getting used to, but I promise, it will help you enormously. Remember, they are there for the whole day and can't run away, so take advantage of this. Don't hold them prisioner, though – that's just plain wrong!
5. Don't walk away empty handed
Collect business cards and company literature from everyone you speak with. When you get home, re-read everything and decide who you want to keep in contact with.
6. Follow up
It would be a waste of time if there were opportunities at the job fairs you attend, yet you didn't follow up. Use the business cards and literature you have collected and make a point of emailing the person you spoke with to thank them for taking the time to speak with you. Do this within 1-2 days after the event so that you are still fresh in their mind. This should open up the lines of communication and a reply email. After a week, if you haven't heard anything, call them to remind them how fabulous you are and that you are serious about working for their organisation. Don't worry – you're not being pushy! If you want it…go get it!
Good luck! I hope to see you at future job fairs.
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