How to make job fairs work for you

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Job seekers often question whether job fairs are worth their time. The answer is it depends. Like anything else in life, what you get out of a job fair depends on what you put into it. Here are some tips to assist you in your search.

1) Do your homework -- Your work begins before you even attend a particular job fair. Find out what employers will be participating then find out about them. Visit their websites and your local library for more information. Are they for-profit or non-profit? How many staff members do they have? What types of positions are they seeking? How long have they been in business? How large is the company? Where are they located? Have they been in the news recently? If so, why? Read all about them.

2) Prioritize your time -- To make the most of your job fair attendance, prioritize ahead of time. Figure out which employers might best be able to help you meet your professional goals. Rank them according to priority and visit with the top representatives first. But take time, whenever possible, to talk with everyone. You never know what doors will open.

3) Be prepared -- There's that Boy Scout motto again. In this case, it means several things. First, bring updated copies of your resume with you to the event. The resumes can, as appropriate, be given to potential employers. Second, have all the information you need in the event that you are asked to fill out an application. Names. Dates. Addresses. Primary responsibilities. Be prepared to fully answer all these questions on an application or otherwise.

4) Develop questions-- No one likes to be bombarded with a list of questions at a public forum. But it might be a good idea to have a few in the back of your mind. If there's an appropriate time to ask, go ahead. But remember focus on the job of interest rather than pay and benefits. Pay and benefits information is a conversation you can have at a later date. The potential employer wants to know first that you are interested and capable of doing the job in question.

5) What's next? -- Are you interested in a particular company? If so, ask the

recruiter what the next step is. Find out if you can come in to speak with them a bit more formally.

6) Write a thank you note -- Nothing beats good, old-fashioned manners. Write a thank you note to the recruiters you met with. Even if they don't hire you, you don't know what doors the relationship might open.

For more information, contact New Directions Career Center (NDCC), a non-profit agency serving central Ohio at (614) 849-0028, extension 100. NDCC assists individuals regardless of their ability to pay.