The RecruiterGuy.com Blog is written for executives, corporate recruiters, third party recruiters, and candidates. Based on recruitment, recruitment consulting, and training since 1981 across many industries, Bill Humbert is an expert Contract Recruiter Consultant,Public Speaker, and Author of "RecruiterGuy's Guide to Finding a Job".
Friday, May 20, 2016
Getting the Most Out of a Career Fair - Candidates
People who are unemployed or simply looking for their next
position are often at a loss how to proceed.In many instances, they were never taught how to begin a successful job
search, not to mention the nuances of attending and participating in events
such as Career Fairs.
My recruiting experience began in 1981 as a contingent
recruiter.In 1992, I became a contract
recruiter for MCI.We had a great 30-month
experience.As a result of my strategy
and our teamwork, my hiring managers and I were able to recruit 143 IT
professionals to Cedar Rapids, IA in 12 months – not an easy feat!In 1993, I began to recruit at Career
Fairs.Since that time I have worked
over 100 Career Fairs for clients – and was paid to speak to groups of
candidates at many of them on how to successfully work a Career Fair.
What is your attitude as a candidate preparing to
attend a Career Fair?If it is anything
less than to expect to meet great people and possibly find a job, you are
selling your opportunity short.This is
a great opportunity to network with these recruiters – and possibly to network
to an interview with a company not attending the Career Fair.
How many of you are involved in sales?Not necessarily as a job, but anywhere in
your life?Approximately 5% of you will
disagree with me, based on my speaking experience.This is Very Important.We all are involved in sales.It may be as simple as trying to convince a
child to finish their dinner, go to bed early, or finish homework.It may be asking someone to go on a date (You
don’t think that is sales??).It could
be trying to convince a fellow employee to perform a task more efficiently.
Therefore, participating in a Career Fair is an
important sales opportunity for you.Don’t
let that discourage you.On the other
side of the table, the recruiters have more of an incentive to Sell You on
their opportunities – if they understand their role.
Think about this question.What truly makes you happy?In talking to thousands of candidates, I have
heard many answers to that question.Doesn’t it come down to 2 key elements?
I making a positive, measurable impact? And,
I having Fun?
If both elements are there, typically money takes care
Like all sales opportunities, working a Career Fair
requires preparation and practice.Some
of the preparation is very simple.Some
of the preparation takes more effort and time.
the type of position that you want to target.This is very important!As a
recruiter with a line of potential candidates behind you, one of the last
things I want to hear you say is “What jobs do you have?”My thought immediately is, “NEXT!”And I have heard candidates say that hundreds
to the Career Fair website and see which companies are participating.One or more of your target companies may have
booths.Check out their websites and
listings of jobs.Remember not all jobs
are posted on a company’s Careers posting.Typically, their director and other executive positions are not on the
closely at your targeted companies’ websites.In particular look at their press releases for tidbits of information
that you may be able to use during your conversation with the recruiter.
at the ads in the paper and on the Internet prior to the Career Fair.You may see a pattern of needs that fits your
experience and skills.Be prepared to
address them in your conversation with the recruiter.
your introduction to them.In my book, RecruiterGuy’s Guide To Finding A Job on
Kindle, I call it the “Here I Am” speech.You may have heard it discussed as the “One Minute Commercial”, “Elevator
Speech”, or “Tell Me About Yourself”.Practice your introduction prior to the Career Fair.
your Resume.Bring at least 10 more
copies than you believe you will need.
professionally.This is a sign of
respect to the people spending hours working the fair to potentially help you
find your dream job.
During one of the Career
Fairs that I worked in Iowa, a gentleman came in the door wearing a clown suit.He was overheard saying that companies were so
desperate to find workers, he would get a job dressed as a clown.Unfortunately for the clown, he gave his
resume to a number of companies who networked with the rest of us to identify
Each Career Fair is
organized differently.Some ask for
pre-registration with a resume.Others
simply look for walk-ins.As a
recruiter, I prefer the pre-registration route.You may actually hear from me ahead of the Fair if I see and like your
If the organizers do not
print a layout of the booths the night prior to the Fair, ask for one at the
door.They will have them for the
companies who are participating with booths – or there would be absolute
chaos.Try to get there a little early
and mark the companies that interest you.I suggest that you mark them as 1, 2, or 3 with most interest as #1.
Here’s a little
secret!Just between us.Please do not tell anyone else!
If you have any #1’s
furthest from the entrance, go to them first.This is like Disney World!Get
away from the crowds.Typically, people
herd down the rows front to back.This
may give you an opportunity to speak to a top potential before the line forms.
After you have spoken
with them, treat the balance of the Fair as you would if you were a
professional football general manager.Pick the best available on your list as they are available or their
lines are short.Sometimes you just have
to wait in line.That is the game.We are simply trying to improve your odds of
talking to everyone on your list.At the
same time, some company may not have made your list.While you are there look at all of them in
passing.A surprise company may attract
One of my clients was De
La Rue.They were a great British based company
(still are).They used to print 60% of
the world’s currency (could be more or less now).I was working a Career Fair for them with De
La Rue all over my booth.A young man
began to walk past me.Since there were
no candidates in my booth, I asked him what he was looking for.He said that he was looking for an
international company!!He was going to
walk past me!I sent his resume to
The Company’s Booth
This is important
news.Some company recruiters do not
know how to properly work a Career Fair.Generally, you can tell who they are.They sit behind a table and look bored.Then they tell candidates to send their resumes online where they also
have to complete an application prior to submitting an application.As a recruiter, I love those recruiters
because I snag what could be great candidates from them!They do frustrate great candidates.
If you do find a great
recruiter, the temptation is to try to interview right there and then because
now you are getting a little desperate.Unless they invite you to interview right now (and sometimes I do), let
them discuss culture, position, and ask you qualifying questions.If you are interested, let them know.Ask if there is any additional information
they need now.If not, let them get on
with their afternoon or evening – and you proceed to your next company.But you are not done with them.
Briefly – Give a firm
handshake but don’t break fingers.Practice good eye contact but it’s not a staring contest!Be succinct.Don’t just collect giveaways – they make terrible stocking
stuffers.Be a good listener – if there
is not a match, simply accept that reality and move on.
Collect a manager’s card
if she/he will give one to you.Usually
it is generic and leads to their online postings.
Before you leave the
Fair, circle back to the companies where you had substantive discussions and quickly
reiterate your high level of interest.Thank them for their time and leave.
Send hand written Thank
You notes to recruiters or managers who spent time with you.Include another copy of your resume.This is called marketing.
Keep good records of your
conversations with companies.
Finally, prior to an
interview with these companies, research them.Understand their history, their future direction (quarterly calls may
give some direction), anticipate any problems they may be experiencing and be
prepared to offer potential solutions if the topic arises.
directions will give you the potential to land your job from a Career
Bill Humbert is available for speaking and training contracts.