Whether you are graduating from college, returning to the work force, or contemplating a career change, career fairs have lots to offer a job seeker. Following a few basic guidelines can help you make the most of the experience and maximize some great networking opportunities.
Dress as you would for a job interview. The interactions you have with prospective employers at a job fair are likely to be brief, and first impressions count. Put your best foot forward with proper attire, a smile, and a confident hand shake. Also remember your own promotional materials, and a professional looking case to hold them as well as the information you collect.
Come prepared. Bring copies of your up-to-date resume, and be ready to talk about yourself. What kind of positions are you interested in? How does your previous experience relate? Decide ahead of time what skills you are going to promote, and have the evidence to back them up.
Do your homework. Spend some time browsing company websites ahead of time to get a better feel for their organizations, what they have to offer, and what they are looking for. Having a good basic understanding of a company will enable you to get right to the point when you have the opportunity to ask questions in person. This will allow you to ask more useful questions, as well as make a better impression than a person who has not prepared ahead.
Figure out your target. When you arrive at the job fair, take a moment to figure out where your target employers are located and have a plan for organizing your time. Too much aimless wandering will decrease your energy and make it difficult to stay focused.
Network, network and network. Take advantage of opportunities to network not just with potential employers, but with other job seekers. They may be able to offer valuable information that could save you time, or open you up to possibilities you hadn’t already considered.
Follow up. Once you have met with an employer, get their contact information, and take some notes to remind you of points you want to follow up on, additional questions you may have thought of, and any specific recommended action. Follow up with a thank you note or email to express your appreciation and solidify your good impression.
Remember, even if you do not receive a job offer immediately following your attendance at a job fair, networking is a huge and very valuable aspect of any job hunt. Take business cards to exchange with others in the interest of helping one another and broadening your contact list. A job fair is also good for keeping you in practice, refreshing your interview skills, staying on top of job trends, and more. Make the most of your opportunity to meet others, exchange information, give a positive impression of yourself, and remain open to future possibilities.
If you find this site helpful, please send a link to your career services department so your fellow alumni know about PharmBoard too! I've already written the message for you. :)