Job Fairs & Transitioning Veteran Events Are Just Like Combat
Think back to your first deployment. You did not go without first being prepared for what laid ahead of you. The same goes for job fairs and transitioning veteran events. Avoid going in their blindly and do homework ahead of time so you maximize your time during the event.
There are job fairs almost every day of the week in cities all across America held by organizations seeking new talent for their company. Job fairs allow companies to reduce recruiting costs and ables them to explore the “look” and “profile” of the ideal candidate for which they are searching.
Job fairs give you the opportunity to gather necessary information about the participating companies, to inquire about their current and future job openings, and to get the contact information for company representative for follow-up later.
Attending job fairs can help you with networking and practicing your interview skills. When attending job fairs, be sure to engage with those representing the companies. Ask questions and leave a positive impression they will remember later.
Five things you should do before attending a job fair:
Job seekers who come prepared will strike up opportunities quickly, so here are five things you MUST do before attending a job fair:
1. Research ahead of time.
There can be hundreds of companies to connect with at each job fair, but that does not mean you will have the time to speak with all of them. Research ahead of time which ones you want to get to so you make the most of your time there. When you know your targets, you can also start to customize your materials. It helps to explore the company’s website, so you know ahead of time which openings are available and the requirement for each position. Having this information will help you tailor your materials and able you to prepare for when you meet with the individuals at the job fair.
2. Plan to approach the employer even if they are not recruiting for the job you want.
Job fairs are great for networking – it is not about merely dropping off the resume. You want to start a conversation with the right contacts. If there is an employer you desire to work with, but they are not recruiting for the job you want, it is essential to go over still and talk to them. You never know when things may change or a position may suddenly open up. The contacts you get there may also direct you to information regarding managment in the department you want to work in. Having the appropriate contact information allows you to follow-up with that individual directly.
The key is to engage in conversation – ask insightful questions. Be someone they will remember at the end of the day or use it as an opportunity to open the door to more conversation.
3. Have your elevator pitch ready.
Employers are looking to hear what you can do for them, so come prepared with a quick pitch on your core-competencies, skillsets, and experience, as well as how it can help solve their problems. Your elevator pitch should not exceed 60 seconds.
4. Dress like you are going for an interview.
Job fairs will host on-the-spot interviews. Come dressed and prepared to interview with resume in hand. Be sure to introduce yourself and be mindful of your body language, eye contact, facial expressions and tone of voice. If you get nervous, take a deep breath and keep going.
Employers take notice of those who exhibit a smile and enthusiasm. They want to see a candidate with a strong desire to work with them and the potential for growth, not someone who is merely swinging by randomly. Some may also screen your interest level by asking typical interview questions like: “What do you know about us?” and “Why do you want to work for us?” – So be prepared!
5. Plan to follow up.
Like a job interview, you should plan to send a follow-up note to the contacts you meet. It is a chance to help keep you top of mind, and it gives you an opportunity to reiterate why you have what they are looking for. Before ending each conversation, be sure to collect business cards from the people you speak with and take good notes, so you know how best to personalize the follow-up note.
Approached the right way, job fairs can open many conversations and doors to job opportunities.
By: Jena Muller is the CEO & Founder of Trident Transitions Veteran Foundation. She has been a part of the US Navy SEAL community since 2006 and is an intricate part of the transitioning Special Operation Force community. With 13+ years of success-driven experience in resume/CV writing and brand management and consulting, she is bridging the gap between military and Corporate America. Jena is passionate about the success of the SOF community after the military and works tirelessly to ensure their success. She is always open to collaborate with like-minded organizations in order to assist elite military veterans into highly competitive job markets.
Photo courtesy of author