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Job Fair Etiquette

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 There's more to going to a job fair than merely putting on your suit and having a few resumes in hand. Going to a job fair means that you will be surrounded by company representatives of organizations where you might be interviewed and perhaps work someday.

You can be certain of one thing at a job fair -- you are being observed. That includes your body language, your verbals and the way you interact with others.

How to prepare for a job fair before the day arrives

A few weeks before the actual job fair, ask your resource center if they can tell you the companies that will be participating in the job fair. Take the time to write to the "college recruiter" of these companies to introduce yourself. Let the person(s) know of your career goals and when you will graduate. Mention how much you are looking forward to stopping by the job fair booth to meet a company representative face-to-face.

By sending this brief, yet professional letter, your visit to the booth will be welcomed. You also will stand out from other students who will be attending the job fair.

What You Must Take With You To A Job Fair

It goes without saying that you should take several clean and crisp resumes to the job fair. One way to make your resume stand out is to attach a general cover letter to each resume. In addition to your resume and cover letter, be sure to have a professional-looking pen and planner, or portfolio with a legal pad for notes.

Finally, be sure that you look and feel confident and highly-energized.

Ways For Being Noticed By Recruiters

One way to be noticed by recruiters is by putting your best self forward. That means looking professional from head to toe and wearing your best business attire. It also includes preparing a one-minute commercial about yourself which describes your major, strengths, skills and experience.

Another way to be noticed by employers is to arrive the moment the job fair is scheduled to begin. This will tell campus recruiters that you believe in being prompt. By arriving as soon as the job fair is scheduled to begin, you also may have fewer students to compete with as you participate in these informal interviews.

Finally, let recruiters know that you have researched their company. You can do this by congratulating them on a recent acquisition that you saw in the press or anything else you may have researched in your career center, library or on-line.

Key Questions To Ask Recruiters During The Limited Time You Have With Them

Recognize that you will have a limited amount of time with campus recruiters. Make your few minutes with each person valuable by asking open-ended specific questions (i.e., "How many internships, summer positions and/or full-time positions do you foresee your company will have in accounting?").

Also, ask campus recruiters when they would welcome hearing from you. Ask them if they would prefer a telephone call or an updated resume to remind them of your interest in interviewing with their company.

Finally, ask campus recruiters for any company information they have that may better acquaint you with their organization.

The Role You Plan In Representing Yourself And Your Institution During Job Fairs

When you attend a job fair, you are doing much more than merely representing yourself. The college or university you attend has a reputation to maintain and the way you act will enhance or detract from the institution's image.

The Five Taboos To Avoid During These Informal Gatherings

Approaching a campus recruiter when the person is talking with another student.

Jumping into conversation without first introducing yourself with a smile, handshake and giving your full name.

Rambling rather than asking specific questions during your few minutes with the person.

Not leaving the brief meeting knowing more than you knew when you approached the person.

Not ending the conversation before the recruiter does (i.e. Thank you for taking time to speak with me. I will contact you this Spring to schedule an interview as you requested."

The Letter To Send After The Job Fair

You can be sure that any letter you send following a job fair will be the exception rather than the norm. For that reason alone, be sure to send a letter within 48 hours from the day of the job fair.

As a way of reminding the person who you were, mention something that you may have talked about (i.e. "I was the person who also is from Cleveland"). Here is a sample letter:

Dear ________________:

It was a pleasure meeting you at the University of __________________ Job Fair last week. As you may remember, I am the person who also is from Cleveland.

As you requested, I am sending you a resume. I will be graduating in June and hope to become part of your organization's team.

After you review my resume and accompanying material, please let me know how you would like to proceed. If I do not hear from you during the week of ____________, I will call you.


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By Ann Marie Smith
Author, Business Etiquette in Brief