NEWS + ADVICE
5 Mistakes to Sidestep at a Job Fair
We asked recruiters and hiring managers at recent Cleared Job Fairs about behaviors they see that hurt job seekers’ hiring chances.
It may be trite, but you only have one chance to make a first impression, and it’s vital that you do this well if you want your attendance at a Cleared Job Fair to benefit your job search. You have a very short amount of time with recruiters at job fairs so make the most of each opportunity by being prepared and be sure to present yourself as a polished professional.
So, what were those self-sabotaging behaviors that kept job seekers from getting the most out of their Cleared Job Fair experience? Avoid these stumbles that recruiters and hiring managers found unsuccessful:
1. Thinking “The world is my oyster, this is a cake walk!”
The unemployment rate is low and the cleared community is shrinking, so if you have skills that are in high demand this may be an ego stroking experience—especially at a poly-only event. But you still have a job to do too. You’ve got to really probe and evaluate the companies who are interested in you. What information do you need to gather so you can decide what’s best for you and your family? Think about some of those questions before you attend, so you can be prepared to ask as appropriate. Asking a well thought-out question about a company is a cue to the recruiter that you’re on top of your game.
2. Being Open to Any Position
Are you someone who applies for 20 different unrelated jobs at a single company? Many recruiters see that and assume you have no idea what you want to do, so they aren’t going to contact you for anything. Figure out specific positions you’re interested in—don’t rely on a recruiter to determine what you should be doing with your life. They may make the wrong choice for you! This is often the approach of transitioning military or someone who has been out of work for quite some time. You should be opportunistic, but focus on the positions that will be the best fit for you and your skill set. If you’re unsure, use this opportunity to ask the recruiter for their advice.
3. Not Greeting the Employer
Some job seekers walk up to a booth, hand over their resume, and stand silently. Job fairs may scare you or make you really nervous. However, you’re there to sell yourself, and your interaction with a company at a job fair is an interview, so present your best self with confidence and don’t forget to introduce yourself. Keep in mind you’re there to network, so talk to as many job seekers as you can, too.
4. Scolding the Company Representative
Yes, people really do this! Maybe you don’t like the online application process, or the job posting you’re interested in isn’t written the way you like, so you feel entitled to lecture the company representative about the error of their company’s ways. The person you’re talking to may be able to help you and be your champion, but chastising them is rarely a strategy for success. Be polite, patient, and above all, professional.
5. Running Out of Resumes
Recruiters are used to looking at resumes, and it’s efficient for them to scan yours and ask you questions at job fairs. Make sure you don’t run out—especially before talking with the employers you are most excited to work for. When you bring enough resumes with you it shows that you’re prepared. So before you hand off your last resume, always check to see if you can make more copies on site, first.
Recruiters talk to numerous job seekers one after another at hiring events. That means you’re being compared to many other individuals. Some of us are very smooth and polished, many of us less so. If you’re a bit unsure of yourself what can you do? It may feel silly, but role-play and practice. Rehearse your elevator pitch and do mock interviews with your mentors, friends, or family. The more practice you have, the better you will feel prepared and be able to sell yourself to the company that you want to work for.
We provide job seekers with an online Job Seeker Handbook before each job fair — and hard copies at the event — that have information on the companies in attendance and some of the positions they’re seeking to fill. If you haven’t done your homework ahead of time, develop a quick familiarity on site.
If you’ve never been to a job fair before or feel unsure about what approach to take ask us for help, whether that’s online or on site!