With unemployment rates climbing to double digits in some states, job hunters are turning out in record numbers at job fairs hoping to make a good impression and get back into the workforce. Competition for landing a job can be fierce and the Better Business Bureau is offering advice on how job hunters can make a strong impression and position themselves as the candidate of choice with potential employers.
In early March, the Georgia Department of Labor organized the largest job fair in the state’s history; more than 19,000 attended in order to meet with 100 employers. In California, more than 10,000 people flocked to Dodger Stadium for a job fair. And in Cleveland 7,000 showed up for a job fair vying for 1,000 jobs, causing more than 2,000 job seekers to be turned away by overwhelmed fire marshals.
“Job fairs can be a great way to meet with many potential employers, however, in today’s flooded job market, standing out from the crowd and positioning yourself as the best candidate is a tough battle,” said Barb Grieman, interim president of the BBB of MN and ND. “With a good game plan and some focused preparation, though, job hunters can tip the scales in their favor and greatly increase the probability of making a good impression and securing a new position.”
The BBB offers the following advice for job hunters on how to prepare and present themselves at a job fair:
- Research companies first. In some cases, only one employer is holding a job fair, which makes research much easier. For larger job fairs bringing in many employers, job hunters should be able to find a list of attending companies at the host’s Web site and begin researching the companies they want to target beforehand. Not only will this help job hunters focus on specific opportunities, but it will also help them develop intelligent, tailored pitches for the employers they want to engage.
- Take plenty of resumes. Before walking into a job fair, job hunters should know which businesses are attending, and what positions they are recruiting for. Job hunters should have customized resumes prepared for their target businesses, and should bring plenty of copies of their standard resume to pass along to other employers. Also, job hunters should take a briefcase or portfolio to organize and hold business cards and other materials.
- Perfect an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is your description of who you are, what your skill set is, and how you can benefit the business. The pitch should be brief, conversational and natural, but should be well-rehearsed. The elevator pitch simply must be memorable and sincere sincejob hunters may only have a few minutes at the most to make an impression on the potential employer.
- Dress and act the part. Putting your best foot forward at a job fair means “looking the part” by wearing professional clothes, such as a suit and removing any unusual piercings and covering tattoos. A job hunter also needs to act like a professional, including not swearing or making inappropriate jokes or speaking ill of a former employer.
- Be confident. While a day at a job fair can be exhausting, it’s important to always act confident and enthusiastic. Job hunters should work hard to stay positive and take breaks to get organized and recharge their batteries. In fact, the BBB recommends taking a few minutes to review your elevator pitch and materials before approaching each of your target businesses.
- Don’t become a victim. While instances of scammers setting up shop at a job fair are rare, job hunters should never pay an upfront fee to any potential employer at a job fair, nor should they give any personal information such as bank account or Social Security numbers until they have researched the company fully outside of the fair.
For more advice on finding a job, as well as guidance from BBB on avoiding fraud while on the hunt, go to www.bbb.org