Candidate at United Career Fairs New York Jobs © 2013 Bloomberg Finance LP

6 Insights for Job Fair Success

Kirk Elliot of United Career Fairs has been doing this for a long time, both as a recruiter and job fair organizer. Here’s (some of) what he learned along the way.

United Career Fairs was founded in 2009 by a team of experienced job fair organizers. They distinguish themselves from ‘cattle call’ fairs by focussing on sales and holding their events in the evening, so active professionals could attend without taking time away from work.

“Helping candidates find a new opportunity is very rewarding. It literally changes their lives”, Kirk says. “Career fairs bring parties together that would not otherwise meet. No one ever gets hired without shaking someone’s hand, first!”

Over the years, Kirk has observed countless candidates working their way towards that handshake. What has he learned about positioning yourself for success?

Career Fair Table New York Jobs SNRE CC BY 20

Credit: SNRE, CC BY

Preparing for the Job Fair:

“Work on a 30 to 60 second commercial about yourself.”

What kinds of job fairs are most worth an applicant’s time?

Any job fair can be, but if you can find one that focuses on your skill set, that would be best. It’s hard to accomplish much at big “cattle call” events.

Any red flags to watch for?

Anything that sounds like a pyramid scheme probably is. 1099 positions are probably a bad idea, too.

How can an applicant best prepare to meet with employers?

Work on a 30 to 60 second commercial about yourself (elevator speech). Highlight your career accomplishments and best attributes. Some people bring “brag” books, especially for the Pharmaceutical industry.

Dress professionally and bring at least 10 resumes. Breath freshener is a good idea, too.

At the Job Fair:

“The goal of any career fair is to get interviews.”

I’ve just walked into my first career fair. What can I expect?

At UCF events you will first hear from the companies. The give a short presentation to tell you about their opportunities. Then you’ll be able to meet with the recruiters of the companies that best fit your background.

Take notes and make a plan of attack. Go to the companies you’re most interested in later, not 1st. Warm up a little.

Anything an applicant should absolutely NOT do at a job fair?

Less is more. DO NOT give the recruiters your life story. Always be positive, don’t go negative about anything. This is not the place. You have five minutes to make a great first impression.

If you had to pick one thing an applicant must to accomplish when meeting a prospective employer, what would it be?

The goal of any career fair is to get interviews outside of the event, not to find a job. Try to set up as many interviews that night as you can. This increases your odds of finding a new career.


Featured Image Credit: Credit: Jin Lee/© 2013 Bloomberg Finance LP

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