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    Going to a Career Fair? 3 Tips to Make the Most of It!

    Have you ever been to a career fair? I haven’t, but I’ve seen stories on the news about them. Imagine about a hundred professionally-dressed people standing in line outside a building waiting for their shot to speak with HR professionals from different companies. And I live in Arizona, so you should probably also imagine them sweating profusely if you want the whole picture.

    In all honesty, career fairs are a great tool for job hunters. You get a bunch of employers who are actively hiring right in one place. And if you’re lucky and have done your homework, a good chunk of them are looking for people with your skills and expertise. What could be better?

    The thing about career fairs is that showing up is only half of the battle. If you really want to make the most of your career fair experience, you are going to have to do more than just show up. Staffing agency Robert Half International recently shared an article with MSN Careers about this very topic. Their advice boils down to three main things: Prepare, Use Your Time Wisely and Follow Up.

    Prepare. Would you go to a job interview without preparing? I think not. At least I hope not. The same things that apply to preparing for your standard job interview apply here as well. Learn about the companies you are interested in and be ready to ask a couple of questions, have plenty of copies of your resume handy, and dress professionally. If you know that it is going to be a busy and fast-paced career fair, Robert Half International suggests writing and memorizing a pitch that's about the length of a TV commercial. Cover the highlights and what makes you stand out among the competition, but most of all, include how you can benefit the company if they hire you.

    Use Your Time Wisely. I think one of the keys to using your time wisely is to remember the point of the career fair. You are there to network and meet with potential employers. You are not there to chat with your friends who are also attending, pick up freebies, and become best friends with the cookie table. Focus on making new connections and presenting yourself in a professional manner and you can’t go wrong.

    Follow up. Do you really want to knock it out of the park? Robert Half suggests sending a brief thank-you email to your new contacts to reiterate what you can offer their companies. Just imagine that an employer leaves the career fair with a dozen resumes from potential candidates. They get back to their office and check their email and the first thing they see is a thank-you note from you. That’s going to make an impression. Even if the recruiter gets thank-you emails from five other people too, wouldn’t you rather be on the list of people who did send one over those who didn’t? I know I would.

     

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