Young people graduating face an unenviable (and uphill) battle. They leave university with little knowledge of themselves, their strengths and the labour market. If they were lucky, they may have visited the Careers Department at their university.
Most likely they managed to get through their years at university without setting foot inside a completely valuable (and already paid for) resource. Of course, at the time students are just trying to stay afloat in their classes, and may not have the time/energy/desire to book an appointment with an onsite career counsellor.
The Careers Department has lots to offer students, not least is access to the upcoming job fairs.
Algonquin College has a job fair today, and all current and past students are welcome to attend. Considering that most people in this city have either attended or taught or WILL be attending or teaching at Algonquin, that means A LOT of people will be going. Last year over 2,100 students attended the job fair.
How do you make a job fair work for you?
- Research – get the list of employers who will have a booth at the fair. Go on to their websites. Check to see if they have a social media presence. Are they on LinkedIn/Twitter or Facebook? If yes, then Follow, Follow and Like!
- Speaking of LinkedIn, check to see who you may know at those companies. Not on LinkedIn yet? It’s not too late. Get on LinkedIn, create a fantastic profile and build your professional online reputation.
- Know yourself. A job fair is only helpful if you know what you are all about. An engineering or accounting grad may know this a little more than a person who graduates with a psychology degree. Just keeping it real…
- If you don’t know who you are, find out. Here is a resource that literally changed my entire life – check it out – True Colors by Tom Maddron. I wish I got a commission for this book – I would probably be a millionaire – I talk about it to pretty much everyone I meet. Life changing I promise!
- Dress the part. Please, please don’t go to a job fair wearing your old and messy jeans or worse, shorts. Ugh. And trust me, I have seen this. Not good at all. Dress appropriately – black dress pants (or dark dress pants or a skirt). Clean top. Clean hair. Not a lot of jewellery. Clean shoes – seriously – people pay attention to shoes – clean them up!
- Bring your resumes in a clean binder /duotang or folder. Make sure your resume has no errors. Look through it. Make it clean, concise and error-free.
- Make sure you have a networking card. Just like a business card, a networking card has your name and contact information. But unlike a business card, a networking card also has three lines that say what you do, what your educational attainment is and your main professional strength – you know, what makes you stand out from other people. Another description is your “unique value proposition.” Remember that point about knowing yourself? That’s what you need to do in order to speak about what makes you different.
- You will want to give your networking card to someone when it is not appropriate to give your resume. Let’s say you are in line grabbing something to eat. It would not be easy or right to simply pull out your resume when someone asks what you do. But you can present a networking card – an impressive move!
- When you do get an introduction, don’t just immediately launch into your schpiel. While it is good to have an idea of what information you would like to share, you need to listen. Listen to what the recruiter is saying. Ask if they are on LinkedIn and when you get home, connect with them on that platform. When you send a connection request to that person, you can write something like “Hi there, we met today at the job fair at (NAME OF PLACE). It was really great meeting you and I would love to add you to my network on LinkedIn. Thanks so much (YOUR NAME).
- Realize that people will be paying attention to you. Behave appropriately and professionally. And don’t hang out with a friend – if you can’t job search or network by yourself, you could come across as immature –and employers want to hire people with a mature attitude. And please – don’t use your phone- unless you are updating your social media or adding someone as a networking contact. Above all, turn your ringer off and if you DO have to use your phone, don’t use it while you are talking to someone. That includes texting!
One of the best (and cost-free) ways to get ready for a job fair is to create an intention for yourself. Make sure you understand what your goal is for attending the event. Is is to drop your resume off and apply to different positions? Or is it to meet people in the fields you are thinking about entering? Is it to increase your number of connections? Is it to develop your networking skills?
Take a moment and think about what you doing – and why. Be conscious and aware.
Whew! You did it – you’re ready for your job fair. Go for it!