You’ll have an opportunity to speak with a variety of recruiters from a variety of companies that are looking for a variety of individuals who have the potential to meet their employment needs. You’ll have an opportunity to ask questions, give answers, and tell your story: what you’re looking for and why, to people who are there for no better reason than having a chance to meet you. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Should you attend if you’re thinking about looking for a job and haven’t fully committed to the idea? Just giving thought to the “maybe” suggests you’re half way there, so find out what recruiters look for and what you have to offer them.
Should you attend if you don’t have a current resume? Yes, attend if you’re the reticent type and need to wade into the water rather than take the plunge. No, don’t attend if you expect a prospective employer to be impressed with your tentative preparation and limited eagerness to move to the next level in your career.
If you’ve made the commitment to attend, here are some tips to make the best of the time you’re there:
Arrive early to avoid heavy foot traffic that compounds itself around the lunch hour. Have plenty of copies of your resume and business cards. Wear your interview clothes and comfortable shoes because you’ll spend more time standing on your feet than sitting on your hands.
What should you wear? You want words to speak louder than clothes so dress conservatively and professionally. Look well-groomed, your clothes fresh and pressed, your hair cut, clean and combed. Don’t distract the interviewer by grandstanding, gum chewing or the stale scent of your last cigarette. You want to be a total package, not just the wrapping paper.
Do a walk-around before you jump in the first available line. Think of the fair as you would a buffet. Everything looks appealing. If you fill-up on the first thing you come to, you might not have time or appetite for the best.
Be courteous to everyone around you. This isn’t a sale at the mall. The people behind these counters aren’t going to wait on you first because you pushed your way to the front. Company reps are assessing talent as well as fit, and rude behavior doesn’t fit anywhere.
Chat with the folks in line with you. Find out what they’re looking for and search strategies they’ve found successful. They may be good networking connections so give them your card and ask for theirs.
What if you don’t have a card, or it has your current company’s name plastered across it?
Get cards printed, and keep it simple: name, address, telephone numbers (home and cell) and email address.
What should you say once you’re face to face with the recruiter? “Hello, my name is ____ , and I’m interested in learning more about your company.” The rest is about opportunity. Be sure to make the most of it.