You’ve got your ‘Line Pass’ for Victoria’s job fair on November 6, 2014, right!? But that’s just the first step. Here’s what I suggest you do next although I’ll start by saying that my suggestions are not scientific or based on a background in career counseling. Rather my advice comes from life experience as well as being in the same shoes as you – unemployed, hoping to make a good impression, nervous about meeting employers and perhaps most importantly wanting to come away from the job fair with some solid prospects of employment but maybe more importantly wanting to come out feeling that I did my best, that I behaved with integrity and poise and that it was not as dreadful as I had feared (and was actually kind of fun).
So let’s tackle stress-free first. If you’ve applied for and received your ‘Line Pass’ you should also have received the info pack that lists all the employers that will be at the event and where they’re going to be located in the venue. (And here’s a little gift from me – find links to all the employers on this Pinterest Board). You should also have received a very helpful email from Garth at GT Hiring with some tips. Choose which employers you want to target based on your research, what jobs they have listed in the info pack and how this information lines up with your skills and employment aspirations. Basically what will make it a less stressful experience is two things – preparation and practice!
As much as possible prepare customized resumes and cover letters – here’s a tip for some ideas on how to do this (although it’s kind of late in the game). Go to Google’s advanced search, type the GT Hiring Blog URL in the box labelled ‘site or domain’ and type the term you are interested in in the first box or phrase in the second box (i.e. resume, elevator pitch) and click on the blue ‘Advanced Search’ button further down the page. This will return a list of blog posts on these subjects that you may find helpful. Figure out how you are going to introduce yourself to prospective employers – perhaps with an elevator pitch kind of thing or a expanded version of the profile statement on your resume – and practice it until you’ve got it smooth. Remember though to be human and not recite it like a robot!
Another idea to make the job fair less stressful is to set up goals and rewards – so maybe if you want to talk to six employers maybe you could talk to two and then give yourself the reward of a 10 minute break to have a coffee before you move on to the next two. And remember, as Helen Fielding says in Olivia Joules’s rules for living – “No one is thinking about you. They’re thinking about themselves, just like you”. Yes, that’s advice from a novelist but I think there is a lot of truth in it – focus less on yourself and on the person you are speaking to, smile, be natural, be interested and be HUMAN.
Once you’ve prepared the resumes and cover letters put them in individualized folders or in a stack marked with post it notes. You don’t want to be fumbling to find the right package to give to employers. Think about the order that you will visit the employers and have some extra resumes to give to employers that you visit spontaneously. Get out the outfit you’re going to wear, make sure it is clean and in good repair (no loose buttons, broken zippers etc). Wear comfortable shoes as you may be on your feet for some time. Once you actually get to the job fair it is likely that time will go quickly but if you’ve prepared well that should pay off and you will come away with some solid prospects whether for interviews or having your resume and cover letter accepted for further consideration.
In terms of having fun – once you have visited the employers you chose to and done a couple of turns around the room why not network a bit with your fellow job seekers? Maybe get in touch with other job seekers online beforehand and arrange to grab a coffee at a set time. Or push yourself to get outside your comfort zone and introduce yourself to a stranger who is also looking for a job – maybe you have helpful contacts. As you prepare to leave the job fair ask yourself if you have done what you set out to do and if you missed an employer for whatever reason – fear, lack of confidence, too long of a line – screw up your courage and GO FOR IT!
Have a great job fair and I’ll see you there!