So what does a job fair have to do with your personal branding? It all depends on whether or not you would like to make a positive impression and network your way into a great new job! Here’s how and why.
Access to hiring professionals en masse
For just about every job seeker (but especially for those trying to land their first career job), one of the big challenges is landing an interview. One often hears candidates who say they would get the job if they could just get in the door for an interview. That once in front of an interviewer, the candidate’s value would become abundantly clear.
Well, here’s your chance! At a job fair, you’re literally surrounded by people involved in the hiring process. Even better, they can’t avoid you. In this moment, no one can send you to voicemail or lose sight of your email. They’re a captive audience. You’re guaranteed a face-to-face conversation with a hiring professional. As someone who knows there aren’t many guarantees in life, this sounds pretty good to me!
Bring your personal brand
Treat this as if it were an interview…because it is! Dress to impress, covering each detail of interview attire. Bring resumes. Do some research. It may be challenging to research every organization. If that’s too much, focus on your top companies, then talk about it at the fair. Reference what you learned in your research and use it to ask questions.
Your branding continues after the event
Now you have business cards from a bunch of hiring professionals you’ve spoken with. Plus, you had a chance to give them a taste of your brand. What’s next? Should you connect with them on LinkedIn? Perhaps. That’s not a bad idea, but it’s only the beginning.
The best next step is to show your follow-through and professionalism. Write them a thank-you note via email. Let them know you appreciate their time and are excited with what you learned about ABC company. Maybe you’d love to learn more about any present or future positions that could be a match.
Don’t forget to attach a resume to give them an instant refresher as to who you are. Remember, they spoke with LOTS of candidates that day. Even though you had a smashing conversation with them, they may be fuzzy on the details. Seeing your resume again will really help to solidify the connection.
You’re building relationships
This process builds strategic relationships. It’s important to use your branding strategically so you can stand out from the crowd. Having worked many job fairs over the years, I can promise you not everyone is doing this. I can also promise that those who do these things REALLY stand out. If you work your branding well, you win over the hiring reps and help them to become invested in your cause. There’s certainly something to be said for that.
Written Adam Lafield, Recruiter & Marketing Specialist