Column Looking for a new job A career fair could be the

first_imgSO, YOU’VE HEARD the ad on the radio or seen it in the newspaper: “Careers Fair”. You think, “I might pop down and check it out”. Don’t let the second word mislead you; this is not like anything else that has ‘Fair’ in the name.It isn’t like the holiday fair where you look for ideas and inspiration for your next break. Or the car show where you sit in the flashy model wishing it was yours. This is a serious operation that requires some consideration.Yet there’s no need to worry, follow my ten tips below and you could be well on your way to that new job.1.         Treat it like a job interviewCompanies pay thousands of euros to set up stands at careers fairs and ask their staff to give up their weekends or their evenings to represent them. Whether, it’s senior directors, HR representatives or hiring managers, make no mistake, they are there to find new employees. Subsequently, you should treat a careers fair like a job interview from the moment you walk through the door.2.         Head there earlyI’ve been to careers fairs where people saunter in at 4pm and the fair finishes at 5pm. This is fine if you only want to see one company, as chances are it will be a bit quieter at this stage of the day. Otherwise, I would go as early as possible. You’d be amazed at how fast time will pass when you are down there, whether it’s queuing, talking to companies or attending one of the workshops that are typically on offer. The last thing you want to do is run out of time.3.         Dress smartlyEven if you work in the IT industry, where casual dress is more common, no-one will look disparagingly if you are well-dressed. A large bank or a professional services company might be looking for IT employees and they don’t wear jeans and t-shirts. If you have a professional looking suit, wear it and in the very least look smart.4.         Do your homeworkIf you were going for an interview you would do some research on the company and job requirements. You should do the same at a job fair. All good careers fairs should list the exhibitors on their website. Take note of the companies you are interested in and check their websites to see if they are advertising any jobs. If you see a job you like, prepare for it like any other interview, because you could meet the hiring manager that day.5.         Prepare your elevator pitchThe huge advantage of a careers fair over a job application is that you get that crucial face-to-face contact at the outset. Companies hire people, not just qualifications and experience. Even if you aren’t meeting the hiring manager you can be sure the company representative you do talk to is judging whether you are appropriate for their business. They will make note of how you present yourself. So, you should practice beforehand, rehearsing a short summary of who you are, your skills and why you want that job or to work for that company.6.         Bring plenty of CVsThis might sound obvious, but I’ve lost count of the amount of people I’ve met at my stand who told me they ran out of CVs. If you have done your homework as mentioned above you’ll know the amount of companies attending the fair, so bring a CV for every company. What’s the worst outcome? You have some CVs left in your possession at the end of the day. I know which I’d prefer.7.         Have your CV prepared for all outcomesIf you have done your research and noted the jobs you are interested in, tailor your CV as much as possible to the jobs ads, mirroring the criteria they are looking for. Or, if you are interested in two different types of jobs, for example receptionist or administrative assistant, have two CVs prepared but only offer one version at each stand.Nowadays, some careers fairs allow you to transfer your CV to the exhibiting companies using a QR code. Find out if that is possible and set it up on your smart phone. If you don’t have a smart phone, borrow one for the day, companies will much prefer to have a soft copy of your details. However, I would still bring a batch of hard copies to be on the safe side.8.         Follow up afterwardsIf a company’s stand is very popular, chances are they will be inundated with loads of CVs. Certainly, at any career fairs where Hays exhibit, we come away with hundreds of CVs. Even with the most stringent of processes, there is a chance a CV can be mislaid. Make sure you have the contact details of the person you spoke to and when you get home, email them a soft copy of your CV. Even if that individual has a hard copy, they will be interested in a soft copy in the future and they’ll appreciate your proactive attitude. Use social media to keep in touch with your contacts.9.         Be enthusiasticI won’t lie to you; Career fairs can become tiresome experiences. If they are incredibly busy you might have to queue at stands for a while, you might be surrounded by a lot of people and it can take time to meet the people you need to. Nobody would blame you for getting a little agitated or tired. However, you must remember the task in hand. Put yourself in the company representative’s shoes and imagine what they’ll be thinking if you approach them looking fed up or disinterested. The one thing interviewers look for, more than anything else, is enthusiasm and it’s the same at career stands. If you’re feeling tired, take a break and get a coffee.10.        Most of all, be yourself!As I mentioned in point 5, the really good thing about attending a careers fair is that you get face-to-face interaction with a company representative. Certain companies have a particular type of culture, which means they are looking for a particular type of personality that would fit in well. Whilst you may not know what that personality is, if you can overcome your nerves and be yourself, you’ll have a much better chance.James Milligan is a Senior Business Director with Hays Ireland, part of a leading global professional recruiting group. They provide expertise at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide.  Hays will be attending Career Zoo on Saturday 14th September at Dublin’s Convention Centre. They will also be hosting the Career Clinic at Career Zoo, offering tips on CVs, interviews and career strategy and James will be presenting a career workshop.For further information about Hays visit www.hays.ielast_img read more

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