Job Fairs – Profitable Networking!

A couple of months ago, someone asked me if there was a Human Resource Group in our area. My immediate response was, “If not, we will build one!” Well, there isn’t one, and I haven’t built one yet either. However, there is something Human Resource Managers can profit from – Job Fairs!

A successful job fair should not just be measured by how many job seekers walk in the door or the number of employers in attendance. Every effort is a success, because people cared enough about their community to put such an event together.

If a job fair is considered to have slow traffic it benefits job seekers, because they can talk longer with company representatives. For those that have never been to a job fair before, it may be easier to attend a smaller affair first to practice networking and learn how to introduce yourself. The benefit to participants hosting booths is they can walk around the room and network!

For job seekers, the ultimate goal is to gain job leads and employment. I say it that way because, some employers are present because they are hiring immediately or intend to be within the next few weeks. And, some companies are in the midst of expanding and are on the lookout for the best candidates.

The biggest mistake some  job seekers made, when attending a job fair, was coming unprepared. Dress as though you were going to a job interview; don’t look like you just rolled out of bed, wearing torn jeans, and a raggedy t-shirt that advertises partying your butt off! Bring several copies of your resumes, a pen, and a note pad to take notes. Most job fairs publicize a list of companies that will be in attendance, which allows job seekers to do some research in advance.

One of the greatest advantages for job seekers is to be able to meet Human Resource Representatives face-to-face. In this day and time that is nearly a luxury, considering most hiring processes begin with an online application. How job seekers follow up with their newly-found job leads, has a significant impact on whether or not they get that highly anticipated phone call scheduling a job interview. Keep in mind, if you gave a company representative your resume and they encourage you to fill out their online application, don’t forget to do so. If you picked up their business card, follow up with them via email after you completed their application process.

Tips from a panel discussion

Recently, I networked at a job fair that held a panel discussion that encouraged job seekers to ask the HR Managers questions relevant to their application process and what they expect when/if called in for a job interview. The unanimous response to completing the (online) application was: be honest and fill out the application properly – use correct spelling, grammar, and capitalization; and do not leave any portion of the application blank.  Resumes needed similar respect. Their analysis of poor resumes and badly filled out applications demonstrated “lack of effort – missing drive and motivation.”

Each of the HR Representatives agreed that job seekers must show pride in their appearance – dress business casual for a production/entry level jobs and dress respectfully in business attire for all other positions. Each of them emphasized to be prepared to tell them Why? you want the job – meaning to describe: Why you are a good fit for their company? The last tip added was this, “A thank you note can make all the difference and gives you another opportunity to express your desire for the position you interviewed for.”

Colleges and Schools 

Many job fairs also  have colleges and schools hosting booths. If you are seeking to further your education or have a junior/senior in high school, this is an excellent opportunity to obtain college applications, ask questions and pick up some knick-knack gifts. You may even get lucky and have the application fee waived! That recently happened for me, when I told them I had a daughter graduating next year. If there are colleges/schools participating in a job fair near you, take advantage of meeting some friendly people that are eager to serve you!

HR networking

I passionately encourage companies to get involved with their local and surrounding communities! If your company is hiring or planning to increase employees in the near future, accept an invitation to host a booth at a job fair! If you weren’t invited, but wish to participate in a job fair event, reach out to the organizers to register! An oversight does not imply you were forgotten or ignored; they may not have had enough resources to reach out to you. Do not miss out on an outstanding HR networking opportunity in your community!

Whether a job fair turn-out is in the hundreds, or much less, networking is always profitable! Each person we introduce ourselves to heightens our success.  Similar to LinkedIn, old friends and new acquaintances lead to new  connections that can possibly contribute to our professional or personal network.


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