Get Career Fair Ready in 5 Easy Steps


Too many candidates treat career fairs like a frazzled kid on a scavenger hunt. They don’t have goals they hope to achieve, companies they plan on pursuing, or any idea how to communicate their background effectively. Put simply, they have no plan. And as an employer sitting on the other side of the booth, it’s painful to watch.




Step 1: Find out what companies are attending. Do some digging to get a list of employers who will be represented at the Career Fair. Then, narrow down your options based on your preferred demographic, industry, and company culture. Rather than waste time wandering around, come prepared by seeking out your targets beforehand. That way, you’ll know exactly where to spend your time.


Step 2: Research your top contenders. Once you have your short list, do your due diligence and research the heck out of those companies. Visit their company website, find out what job openings they have, get the names of HR leaders, and get a feel for what their work environment is like. You might find that your list will get even smaller the more information you find out – that’s ok. You’ll be more successful by focusing on a few viable opportunities than haphazardly throwing your resume into the hands of anyone who’ll take it.


Step 3: Customize your resume. You should have a different resume for each company you plan on approaching. Your resume should clearly state what type of position you’re looking for and incorporate relevant keywords throughout. You’ll find those keywords littered on the company website and in their job postings. For instance, if you see words like, “high-energy,” “fast-paced,” and “innovative,” reiterate those same themes throughout your resume. By matching your resume to the company language, your resume will have a better chance of making a strong first impression. Lastly, provide evidence of your highlighted skills by listing awards, accomplishments, and testimonials.


Step 4: Get LinkedIn. Over 3 million companies have LinkedIn business pages and 94 percent of hiring professionals are using it to source talent. From an employer’s point of view, LinkedIn gives them the opportunity of gaining a much fuller picture of each candidate. Because employers are cautious about making a bad-hiring decision, LinkedIn helps alleviate some of their fear of the unknown. So if you’re not on LinkedIn, you’re already at a major disadvantage. If you are, kudos! But make sure you’re using it to the full extent, like uploading a professional photo, routinely updating your status, and optimizing it with industry buzzwords, endorsements, and recommendations. And don’t forget to connect with HR contacts from your target companies.


Step: 5: Perfect your 60-second narrative. You’re conversation with an HR leader at a job fair is very different than your response to “Tell me about yourself” in an interview setting. Be sure that you sound natural, at ease, and, most of all, prepared. It should sound something along the lines of, “Hi Joan, I researched your organization and it seems like you're looking for a candidate who has the ability to work in a fast-paced, ever-changing business. As an administrative professional with diverse experience working in chaotic, growing companies, I believe I have the soft skills your client needs to make an impact. For these reasons, I wanted to give you my resume for the customer service role you advertised in hopes that we can talk soon.”


Join Joan Graci for her keynote speech on 2015 Job Seeker Trends at the Buffalo News Career Fest at the Millennium Hotel Buffalo on Tuesday, February 24 at 12 p.m.