How To Sell Yourself At Job Fairs

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Rosella Eleanor LaFevre > Sophomore > Temple University, Photo by Catherine Finsness > Sophomore > The George Washington University

A job fair is not the time for companies to pitch themselves to jobseekers, but for jobseekers to pitch themselves to the companies, says expert Kathy Siravo, product and event supervisor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com. What this means is that, “The most important thing students need to bring to a job fair is their A-game,” said Rachel Brown, director of Temple University’s Career Center. There are a few steps you can take to ensure you’re putting your best self forward. 

 
Step 1: Research
According to Siravo, whose job involves the organization of job fairs, the first step is to do your research. “We have a website for each of our job fairs where we list the companies who will be present,” Siravo said. Most job fairs should have a list of presenters available online. Before attending the event, you should research the companies that will have tables at the event, being careful to familiarize themselves with the company’s mission, its available positions and the skills you need for those positions.
 
Step 2: Resume
Another part of your homework is making several copies of your up-to-date resume. When you attend the event, you should keep these in a folder. A big mistake job fair attendees make is handing a folded resume to a recruiter, Siravo said. She was also quick to warn that jobseekers need to make sure their resume is in “tip-top shape,” which means it should be free of grammatical errors, easily readable and tailored to the position you’re seeking.
 
Step 3: Cover Letter
It’s important to write a cover letter that will accompany your stellar resume. This can be a general cover letter, or “you can tailor your cover letter for the companies you’re most interested in,” Siravo said. Your cover letter should also be free of grammatical errors; if you need to, ask a friend (or two) to read over it.
 
Step 4: Elevator Speech
You should consider a job fair your interview, said Siravo. Prior to the event, practice an elevator speech – this is a quick pitch you’ll give recruiters, and the product you’re selling is yourself. You’ll often have only two minutes with recruiters which means you’ve got to get to the point quickly. While at the job fair, you should “quickly engage the recruiter by stating why you are interested in this organization and how you are a great fit [for that organization],” Brown said.
 
Step 5: Wear Business Professional
It’s also important to dress accordingly. “Your A-game uniform is definitely a neatly pressed business suit,” Brown said.
 
Step 6: Thank You Note
You should ask every recruiter for a business card, which will come in handy when it’s time to follow up. Following up should begin when you get home from the job fair, Siravo said. That’s when you should be sure to email the recruiter, reintroduce yourself and mention the fair. Thank them for talking to you, tell them you’ve included an electronic copy of your resume, and be sure to attach the file to your email.
 
Step 7: Follow Up
If you don’t hear back from the recruiter in a week or so, Siravo said you should feel free to follow up again. You can do this by phone. “It never hurts to follow up,” Siravo said.
 
Step 8: Quality over Quantity
Don’t feel like you need to give your resume to every recruiter at the event. You only need to talk to those whose companies you’re most interested in. As Siravo said, at some fairs this can mean one or two companies. At other fairs, you might be interested in 10 or 15. Your focus should be building quality connections, not simply a quantity of them. Ultimately, your aim is to make a positive first impression, because, as Brown said, “You never have a second chance to make a first impression – make the most of it.” You’ll know you’re successful if you’ve made “a connection that can be continued after the event,” Brown said.
  

College Magazine Staff

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