5 Ways to Wow Employers at a Career Fair
From online job boards to professional networking, students in online degree programs have a variety of options when searching for their next opportunity.
Career fairs are one popular and effective avenue that students graduating this summer should remember to incorporate into their schedules.
I recently had the opportunity to represent Grantham University at a career fair and observe the interaction between job seekers and employers. There were many do's and don'ts that caught my eye.
From my observations, here are five ways to turn heads and wow employers at career fairs:
1. Ditch the elevator speech.
Yes, I said it. Ditch the elevator speech. This may sound shocking, but I recently learned something more effective than spilling out everything to someone in 90 seconds or less: The Golden Circle.
In his presentation on How Great Leaders Inspire Action, Simon Senek presented a simple but powerful model on how to inspire action. This information may be useful for job seekers looking to gain an employer’s interest. Senek’s concept of The Golden Circle identifies that most people will speak about what they do and how they do things, and less on why they do things.
Elevator speeches typically lack this “why” factor because so much effort is spent communicating what we do and how we do it.
According to Senek, throughout time, historic icons like Martin Luther King, Jr., the Wright Brothers ─ especially Apple, Inc. ─ have been successful in galvanizing collective action and consumer interest because values strengthen their work.
Senek suggests to simply reverse your speech. Start off with why you do things, why you are interested in working with an organization, and so forth and then move onto the how and what you do.
By doing this, you create a foundation in which information that follows is supported by some sort of value. And people believe in values. Watch Senek's video here.
Next time you speak to an employer, give it a shot.
2. Create a plan.
Career fairs can be challenging. Hundreds of job seekers and employers will be in attendance. Create a plan to prepare for success. Research information on employers, including current events surrounding the organization, and strategize how you will communicate your knowledge, skills and abilities to fit each employer’s needs.
3. Dress appropriately.
A career fair should be treated no differently than a traditional job interview. Make sure you dress to impress.
4. Bring copies of your resume.
Career fairs attract a large pool of applicants. Out of the hundreds in attendance, it would be impossible for an employer to remember every person.
Make sure you bring extra copies of your resume and leave them with employers so they can remember you. Use The Golden Circle strategy to leave a more lasting impression. Be sure to have an expert review your resume before you head to the event.
5. Show interest in each employer.
At the recent career fair I attended, I observed many job seekers passing by each employer booth as if they were shopping at a local grocery store. My advice: Don't do that. Show interest in each employer. Visit each employer booth and inquire about challenges the organization faces and respond with why you think you can help them.
Even though you may not be interested in working with them, showing a genuine interest in what their organization does may land you a personal referral somewhere else or later down the road.
I've had proven success with this strategy. A past employer I spoke with once told me to send them my resume, and they would personally forward it to a contact they had with another company that would be interested in my qualifications.
No matter what your strategy, it is important to have confidence in your knowledge, skills and abilities. Be personal with employers and express why you care so much about working with their organization. The rest will follow.
About the author: Michael Rae Bermudez joined Grantham University in May 2011 and is the Career Services Coordinator in the Grantham University Career Center. Michael facilitates academic and career advising within the U.S. Air Force Reserves. Prior to joining Grantham University, Michael served as an E-5 in the U.S. Air Force.