Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Think Job Fairs Are A Waste of Time? Here Is Why You Should Think Again

In Career Development Services, we sometimes hear excuses about why people are not planning to attend the annual job fair. Well, we are here to reassure you there is great value behind these career-focused events. Not totally convinced? Let us answer some of the top hesitations:

1. “You leave with nothing more than sore feet.”

Chances are that you have been to a job fair before. You could have wasted away 2 or 3 hours of your life getting jostled around by hundreds of other job seekers, only to leave with a stack of business cards for people you don’t remember and sore feet that you can’t seem to forget.

That’s because if you don’t strategize, job fairs can be a waste of time! If you show up without an updated resume, a memorable introduction, or even a big smile, you may have taken a step backward. Before arriving, research the companies who will be there, ask a friend to help you practice your professional introduction and have a list of “warm up” tables you’ll visit before introducing yourself to your dream company. Additionally, be sure to dress to impress! Get your suit dry-cleaned (or get a new interviewing outfit through Career Wardrobe – contact CDS for a referral).

2. “No one will offer me a job or even an interview.”

You wandered around from table to table, collecting promotional pens and waiting for someone to recognize your brilliance, like a diamond in the rough. It never happens.

Here’s the thing: most employers don’t do on-the-spot interviews or hiring. They’re not Oprah with a bag full of jobs to sprinkle on their adoring audience: they are there to generate interest in their positions so they can then select the best candidates (usually after a series of interviews). Job Fairs are hectic for both job seekers and recruiters, so they will want to schedule some one-on-one time after the job fair to properly vet these candidates.

Keep in mind that you are attending this job fair to make connections with people. If you wait until someone spots you, you will be waiting forever. So go introduce yourself, ask some questions, and find out about the next step in their hiring process. Ideally, you will be able to follow up directly with the person you met, so remember to ask for contact information (and take a moment before you move along to make notes about your interaction).

The next day when you reach out through email or LinkedIn, don’t hesitate to mention the memorable aspects of your discussion. Did you find out that you are both originally from North Carolina? Did she remark on the subtle polka dots in your tie? Remind the recruiters of those interactions to help personalize and humanize your job search strategies.

3. “No one is hiring for my exact position.”

After visiting each and every table at the job fair, you realize that no one is looking to fill the job you want. Therefore, nothing will ever come of this, right?

Wrong -- perhaps you are in a very niche field or seeking a specific position that does not have many openings. However, your objective at this job fair is to make connections with the recruiters and let them know how you fit in with their organization’s culture and core values. They might be there looking to fill positions for 20 front-line workers, but those front-line workers will need a manager. Tell them about your management qualifications and keep in touch so that when they do have that a managerial opening, they remember you!

Think outside the box! A law enforcement agency might have IT openings, a social services organization might be looking for managers, and a hospital might be recruiting for their human resources and accounting departments. If you are creative in your job searching pursuits, you will open yourself up to a world of opportunities.

Ultimately, job fairs can be a waste of time. Peirce’s unique job fair strategy ensures that you will not spend time meeting recruiters who aren’t seriously recruiting. Each one of our employers is vetted to ensure they are recruiting for actual open positions. No services or sales pitches here! Our employers know about the majors offered here at Peirce and are specifically looking to recruit candidates to fill positions in the legal, healthcare administration, IT, or management fields.

To get the most of out of this (and any) job fair:
  1. Prepare a quick introduction and a few questions you can ask recruiters.
  2. Refocus your job fair goals to make connections that will pay off in the future.
  3. Dress for success. Demonstrate your ability to exceed expectations by wearing a business-appropriate outfit or suit. Contact Career Development Services now for a referral to get a free interview suit!
  4. Come prepared: 
    1. Yes, bring several copies of your resume, but don’t be surprised if you are redirected to the company website (sometimes it’s just company protocol!). 
    2. A folder or portfolio: bring a place to stow marketing material and business cards (a folder with pockets works great). 
    3. A way to take notes to remember specifics on who you talked to so you can write a memorable follow-up email or LinkedIn request. A notepad works, and so does the memo app on your phone.
  5. Keep a positive attitude throughout, even when you are in the hallway, elevator, or restroom. You never know who is listening in!
  6. Follow up immediately to solidify these connections and stand out from the competition.
Register now for the upcoming Peirce College Job Fair on Thursday, April 26 from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. on campus: peirce.edu/jobfair

For assistance with job searching, contact Career Development Services at 215.670.9202, cds@peirce.edu, or visit the office in Suite 67, College Hall.