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Monday, September 27, 2010

Make the Most of a Job Fair

I recently had a booth at a very large job fair in the area.  Many of the attendees were dressed in suits or other professional attire.  I cannot stress enough that the way you present yourself is your first impression.  So, do you want a business owner or hiring managers first impression of you to be in jeans and sneakers?

Granted, when running errands, I may not have perfect hair, make-up and outfit, but, I am not going to a job fair.  If you cannot afford to go to Neiman Marcus for a new business suit or other professional clothing, there are less costly alternatives.  Some organizations offer unemployed job seekers assistance with clothing for interviews, Goodwill often has clothing that still has the original tags on it, and many resale shops have great bargains, not to mention, one suit with different shirts or blouses can carry you through many interviews.  If nothing else, a freshly laundered pair of khakis and a dress shirt, along with a shave and haircut can show that you value the interviewers time and your own pride.

If you haven't ever seen the tips we offer to "Make the Most of a Job Fair" here are the highlights:
  • Dress for a business interview.
  • Bring pens and paper to make notes.
  • Bring extra resumes, enough to leave at least two with every recruiter.
  • Keep yourself and your materials organized. You may want to use a portfolio, folder and/or small bag.
  • When you meet with the recruiter:
    • Introduce yourself. Express confidence with a firm handshake and a smile, and by maintaining good eye contact.
    • Be interested. Briefly explain what you like about the company and give your “elevator speech.”
    • Ask the questions you prepared.
    • Ask about the application and hiring process. What is the timeframe? Is there a good time for you to make a follow-up call?
    • Do not ask about salary and benefits; discuss this only if the recruiter brings it up.
    • Ask for a business card or ask for a contact name, phone/fax numbers, and/or email address. Take brochures or other information available at the recruiter’s booth.
    • At the end of your conversation, offer a firm handshake and a thank you, making sure to address the interviewer by name.
  • Keep a list of the employers you meet. After each conversation, make notes about the company and the conversation you had with the recruiter.
  • Pace yourself. Take a breather after each conversation to collect yourself and reorganize for the next one.

 What do you think is appropriate job fair attire?