NEWS + ADVICE
How to Wow Recruiters at a Job Fair
You just walked into a large room filled with government contractors’ branded booths, each with several recruiters ready to make or break your chance at a job. There are lines at each booth, so you only have a few seconds to knock their socks off.
What do you do?
What do you say?
Kathleen Smith, chief marketing officer at ClearedJobs.Net, says the cleared job fair crowd skews slightly older: Younger professionals are mostly hunting online, while older generations still want to chat with recruiters and hand over resumes in person. Military personnel transitioning to the private sector are divided between the two job-hunting styles.
For those attending events in person, knowing what to say to recruiters is crucial. You only have a few seconds to make an impression.
“Many people who come in aren’t prepared to be here,” says Patra Frame, owner of Strategies for Human Resources and presenter at the September 2011 ClearedJobs.Net Cleared Job Fairâ„ . “They don’t present themselves well at all.”
“You can be the person who I’m going to think from that first handshake, ‘Wait a minute, I’ve got a live one,’ because that’s what you want me thinking.”
Create an Elevator Pitch
Job fairs are inherently a marketing event, and you’re the goods up for grabs. You need to summarize why you’re the best hire out there in two or three sentences.
To start, think about the aspects of your personality and experience that make you unique. “The worst thing you can say is blah, boring, bland, like ‘I’m a 25-year supply professional looking for an opportunity to use my skills,'” says Frame.
What makes you unique? Is it your depth of experience? Unusual aspects of your work? Are you a terrific manager? Great at business development? Can you turn the client from hell into the client that signs a new contract?
Balance Your Pitch
However, you still need to speak about yourself in relatively generic terms, because “contractors refer to things in different terms.”
You also need to understand what employers in your field value and capture both your professional and a few relevant personal attributes in your elevator pitch.
Present Well in Person
Don’t forget to tell the recruiter your name. “You’d be surprised how many people forget that,” Frame says. Follow up with your personal elevator pitch, then politely ask whether the company has any positions that sound like a good match.
With a friendly, confident greeting and elevator pitch, you’re already ahead of the game. Here’s one more tip: If you’re nervous, go in the bathroom and practice in front of the mirror. Rehearse your elevator pitch, or do as Frame says an acquaintance does before events: Stand in front of the mirror and shout “Yes! Yes! Yes!” (Appropriate gestures are optional.)
Lindley Ashline is the Web editor at GovWin.com, the network that helps government contractors win new business every day. She can be reached at [email protected], or you can follow her on Twitter @lindleyashline.This entry was posted on Monday, September 12, 2011 3:39 pm