Have you heard the expressions: Job Fairs, Career Fairs, Career Expos, Hiring Events and Employer Events? These events often have slightly different titles, yet they usually have the same format. In brief, Job Fairs are occasions in which employers, schools, recruiters and career professionals give information to job seekers.
However, they can be much more than this. Job Fairs can be opportunities to understand initiative, to practice patience and to switch up your job search from searching online, to getting out of your home to learn something new. At Job Fairs you can research, appreciate and prove that there is more to life than hunting through Google for a job.
The top 10 reasons and points to remember when attending Job Fairs are:
• To learn that first impressions can make you stand out from the crowd. Many employers prefer to meet candidates in person instead of reading resumes and applications from strangers.
• To learn that the workplace is not always organized by what you have originally studied. There are many alternative careers you might not have even thought about. For example, you could be an Internationally Educated Lawyer with a recent Community College Human Resources Diploma who starts to talk with a Legal Recruiter, and the next thing you know, you might be considering an administrative position with this Recruiter.
Or maybe you are a job seeker with two years of coursework toward a Bachelor of Nursing Degree, who changed directions and obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree. While you were at University you were very involved in the Student Union and the Canadian Federation of Students and have a passion for advocacy and Labour Relations. The next thing you know you might be talking with the Ontario Nurses Association and considering becoming a Labour Relations Assistant.
• To learn more about employers than what you read on their websites. When you ask questions in person, you can gain an inside view into the company culture.
• To learn that Job Fairs are not social events. Be careful not to fall into the mistake of interacting on a social level. Never forget that you are being judged on your potential to function in a work environment.
• To learn that planning can put you ahead of the competition. Dress to impress as if you are going to a job interview, have extra copies of your resume, and yet be ready for some employers not to accept your resume and instead ask you to apply online. This is simply to comply with company policies and does not mean employers are ignoring you or that attending Job Fairs are a waste of time.
• To learn about having an open mind. For example, if you research the registered employers before attending Job Fairs, you might discover there are only 6 employers on your target list to speak with. However, if you have extra time, or have to wait to speak with an employer, take advantage of the opportunities to talk with other employers who are not busy. You might be surprised to learn something new. At the very least, you will be practicing how to initiate a conversation in an informal business setting.
• To learn about business etiquette. Stand up straight, don’t chew gum, don’t play with your hair, don’t smell like smoke and don’t act distracted. Use all the keys to successful interviewing including a firm handshake, a warm smile, eye contact and an assertive voice.
• To learn how to be evaluated on more than your resume and LinkedIn profile. At Job Fairs you can practice your “career pitch” or “elevator speech” or “30-second commercial”. For example, instead of just handing your resume to a potential employer when you get to the front of a crowded line at a Job Fair, your career pitch could be:
“Hi. My name is Jane Smith and I’m an administrative assistant who is fluent in two languages. I recently graduated from George Brown College with a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management and I have excellent digital fluency skills. If you are looking for someone who is organized and reliable, here I am!”
• To learn that you can use your leadership skills to follow-up with employers. While at Job Fairs, collect employers business cards and email your “Thank You” within 24 hours. Thank you emails can work to your advantage because they show courtesy and respect, and can demonstrate your written skills.
• To learn that connecting with employers, recruiters, schools, or career professionals can help to build self confidence. Nothing can really replace in-person contact for making an impact. Not even Google.
To find out more about job searching and how to approach employers, contact your local Employment Ontario Career Centre.
This article was submitted by Lisa Trudel, Career Specialist with the Centre for Education & Training. She works at their Parliament Employment Services location in the historic Cabbagetown district of downtown Toronto and can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org