Whether you subscribe to the idea that the job market is starting to thaw or not, you can’t argue with the idea that the job market is someplace we all want to keep an eye on always, keeping our options open at all times. One means of learning about the best that the market in our area offers could be the local job fair. That being said, many of us are so turned off by the thought of standing in line with other unemployed folks so we can get three minutes of meaningful dialogue with a prospective employer. Sounds pretty awful, but the job fair is a land of potential if you give it a chance and work it correctly. My case is below for your consideration.
1. With the market three years removed from the layoff cliff of 2008/9, employers that are coming to Job Fairs have improved significantly. You can tell by the type of positions that are being posted. Fewer sales and entry-level jobs and more skill and middle-management positions are starting to show up. Further, employers, by attending, these are telling you here that they are tired of what is coming in via the average ad and are looking for some new blood.
2. With the average employer who attends a job fair seeing, say, 500 resumes a week when they have five or more jobs posted, your chances of standing out and getting a face-to-face meeting with them is slim. It doesn’t get much easier than going to a job fair to see the recruiter or hiring manager in person and have the chance to shine.
3. Focusing on the companies represented more so than the positions they claim to be recruiting for that day is also a great strategy. If a firm you want to work for is at a job fair, then, again, this is an open door to see the gatekeeper.
4. The lines are smaller. The companies that run these, for the most part, are doing a better job at logistics, flow, and creating a more dignified environment for their clients. Most have been scared away by what they saw on the news or even live in 2009 at these infrequent occurrences. Today they are far more manageable and truly allow for a quality connection with the employers in the room.
Now, all of the above means nothing if you don’t go in well prepared. That means dressing cleanly and smartly, possessing ample copies of a spell-checked, grammar-checked, well-thought-out resume, and prepared to present a verbal picture of who you are and what you are in under 60 seconds, all with great eye contact and body language. Thus, the case has been made. Job fairs are worth the time if you do your homework and prepare.
David Lewis is CEO of two firms: OperationsInc, an 11-year-old Human Resources Consulting firm, and AllCountyJobs.com, a network of 29 regional job boards in the Northeast US. His firm just launched Job Search 101, a training program for recent and soon-to-be grads on how to find a job. Got to www.OperationsInc.com and www.AllCountyJobs.com for more info.
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