Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Is a Career Fair an Interview?

Well, I've had a chance to settle in to my new role a little and so.........I'm back.
Over the years I have had the opportunity to attend a lot of Career Fairs. I've been to entry level fairs all the way up to professional executive level fairs.
One thing is true at every career fair I have ever ettended, some candidates are prepared, and some are not.
I suppose you can approach a career fair a couple of different ways.
You can approach it as a buyer, or you can approach it as a seller.
If you approach it as a buyer, and there are several dealers selling used cars and you are looking for the best deal, then you may not get a lot of attention.
It seams today that there are alot of candidates approaching career fairs as buyers and they want us to sell them our "used car".
Now, I agree that I have alot of competition at a career fair and my job is to convince you that T-Mobile is the best choice out of the hundreds of employers to choose from however; aren't you also selling your "used car"?
I have had people come up to my booth at a career fair and ask me what I was doing there? Now, what I would like to say is, "I'm giving away free gifts, would you like one"?
Well, of course they would because that's the only reason they came to the career fair in the first place.
Then there are the people who come up to the booth and ask, "Are you giving those away"? Whatever those are......could be pens, waterbottles, stress relievers, notepads, etc. Then they want to know if they could get one for their friend that couldn't make it because they had to work. Wow, your friend has a job? Maybe you should do what they did...........
Seriously, when you come to a career fair, act like you are going to your first interview. Approach the booth confidently, introduce yourself, let them know you are very interested in exploring opportunities with their company.
Before you get there, do some research on the companies that are going to be there and only approach the ones you really want to work for and that have positions that match your skills.
All career fairs will at the very least have a handout listing the companies that are in attendance and should have a list of the positions they are hiring for.
Even if they are not currnetly hiring for those positions, drop off a resume at the companies you are interested in and let them know you would like to be considered for future openings.
Be professional when speaking to the people at the booth. You never know who you might be talking to. We often invite hiring managers to attend career fairs. You just might be talking to a decision maker and not know it?
We also send recruiting assistants to career fairs and I have had candidates say things to them like "I only talk to decision makers".
Well, guess who the recruiting assistant is going to tell about your attitude and approach? You guessed it, the recruiter....... Ummmm, you may have just blown it.
It's okay to ask questions about the hiring process and what the next step will be after dropping off your resume. It's also okay to ask how long it may be before you might be hearing back from the company.
Thank them for taking the time to talk with you. Ask if there is someone that you should contact or if the person you talked with has a business card and make sure you have what you need to contact them or complete the application process.
Oh, one more thing, did I mention that when you go to a career fair, dress professionally, or at least business casual and do not, under any circumstances, bring your children!
Yea, I've seen it all......well probably not all, but close!

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