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What to Do at a Job Fair

This week, I attended a job fair—I was on the other side of the table this time around! Job fairs can be tricky because you aren’t sure which companies will be there, and you can't do a great deal of research on all of the organizations that are there. What you can do, however, if prepare yourself to be great! As an administrator who is looking to hire, I thought that it would be helpful to give a few tips I observed from candidates who shone and things I wished I’d seen. All of these things made it easier to have conversations with candidates and helped us determine how or if they would be a good fit for our organization.

#1: Have an elevator pitch. I’ve mentioned this in a previous blog, but it is CRUCIAL that you develop a solid elevator pitch. Be sure to have a mini-pitch that highlights who you are, your accomplishments, your qualifications, your goals, and what you’re looking for. That is the information a hiring manager will ask if you don’t volunteer it.

#2: Be prepared. Make sure you have enough copies of all of the materials that you want to distribute. Job fairs are snapshots of candidates, and it’s important that you can provide information that is easily accessible and information that helps you stand out from other candidates. It’s less likely that a hiring manager will remember to email a candidate who just signed in as opposed to one who left materials behind to peruse.

#3: Make yourself stand out. Hiring managers are inundated with candidates at a job fair, and are often making hiring decisions based on those short introductions. If you want your resume out of the “no” pile, you have to make sure you stand out. No, this does not mean putting your picture on your resume or adding color or funky fonts, you can make sure you stand out by doing some of the following:

  • Quantifying your resume - the world is data-driven, you need to add numbers. Don’t say you implemented a new program, say you implemented a new program that increased student achievement on the state test by 2 percentage points.

  • Providing a mini-portfolio - give a small portfolio of 3-4 items that provide a snapshot of your skillset

  • Provide an accomplishment visual - simply create a one page visual handout (not a resume) that highlights your accomplishments and goals. Include graphs and other data on it.

#4: Know and be honest about what you want to do. Oftentimes, candidates are so eager to work that they make promises on which they can’t deliver or try to bend to fit available positions. You have to ask yourself, “What is my preferred position,” then focus on finding that role or a very similar one. If you offer something that you can’t actually do, either you will find yourself looking for a new job because you will be unhappy OR the hiring manager won’t call you because he/she knows you aren't an ideal fit.

#5: Have an entrepreneurial spirit and be innovative. Sometimes, you can find yourself in a role because you have an idea and a plan. If you want to start an athletic program or a music program with an organization that lacks one and need candidates who can wear multiple hats—you may find yourself winning a new position. Always show up with an idea and a plan that showcases your skillset!

This blog is short and sweet! I wish you the best of luck at your next job fair! I hope you find these tips helpful!

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