One of the old-school tactics colleges recommend to job seekers is to attend career fairs. While this can seem like an outdated or even quaint idea, these events really can be your path to a new job. If you use them strategically and have the right expectations going in, you can build your network, find out more about a potential employer and make a strong impression.
Benefits of Career Fairs
When you apply for roles with big businesses online, your resume and cover letter are usually not even viewed by a real person. Computer programs scan most, and unless you have just the right combination of keywords, your application can end up in a black hole. Job fairs allow you to bypass this process and meet recruiters face to face. It is a unique opportunity to impress people responsible for hiring and build connections you otherwise would not make if you just submitted a resume.
Upcoming Fairs in Orlando
Orlando has a good number of career fairs in the next few months. Check out these opportunities to see if there is a good fit for you:
- June 29, 2016: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Mega Career Fair
- July 13, 2016:12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Central Florida Employment Council
- July 21, 2016: Starts at 7:30 a.m., Orlando Flight Attendant Career Fair
- August 4, 2016: 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Best Hire Career Fair
Preparing for a Job Fair
Do some preparation and research before the event to maximize your experience, including:
- Create a plan: Find out what employers will be at the fair ahead of time. That will save you from sifting through materials the day off, trying to decide whom to visit. Target just three or four employers so you can have a meaningful dialogue and not feel rushed to get to the next person.
- Dress up: You may feel ridiculous reaching for a suit jacket when you are going to be in a convention hall, but what you wear does make a difference. Dressing professionally can only help you, not harm you; wearing jeans, on the other hand, can make the wrong lasting impression.
- Research: Check out your targeted companies’ websites and job listings, so you know what openings they have and what skills they require. By highlighting how your experience and skill set lines up with their needs, you can set yourself apart from the competition.
- Chat: Don’t expect just to walk by and drop off your resume. Prepare an elevator speech to sell yourself as a great candidate. At job fairs, employers meet hundreds—if not thousands—of people, so you need to be able to present yourself as a polished and poised professional.
- Follow up: If you collected business cards from company representatives, do not let the relationship fade away. Apply to relevant jobs online and send a follow-up note. Remind the person that you met at the fair, that you reviewed your experience at your previous role and that you are interested in the position you discussed. It could lead to you being put ahead for consideration.
Instead of sending your application into the application black hole and hoping for the best, job fairs can be an excellent way to break through and broaden your network. By connecting with recruiters personally, you can make a good impression and potentially end up with your new job.