Job show season is upon us! What an exciting time. This is your chance to get inspired with the prospect of a new role, exciting new company or career venture.
From on-site job shows at your college or university, to one of the large scale industry specific types, this is your chance to see what’s out there and get INSYNC with the first, or next step of your career ladder.
Keep your eyes peeled for organisation scouts who will be on the lookout for bright young sparks, or potential candidates for a role they would like to fill.
Filled with raw ‘straight from college’ talent, or the post internship crowd looking for their first role – competition will be stiff. Even more so if you’re looking to get back into work after a gap, or are well versed in the stages of climbing the career ladder.
So, how do you make the most of your time? And I don’t just mean collecting the free sweets and brochures. Follow our 7 point job-show checklist and ensure you’re visible, and most of all memorable to scouts and prospective recruiters.
The following checklist will help you build your skill at articulating what you have to offer, grow your knowledge of your chosen industry, and help you make useful contacts for a head start in the recruitment process. After all – impress the right people and you may well land your dream interview.
1. Pre-register for the job show
Most job shows encourage visitors to register for the event in advance. This will usually involve submitting a CV as well as few personal details. The key to pre-registration, is not simply for organisers to know how many cookies to order for breakouts and seminars, but so that employers can scan the list and screen potential ‘hot candidates’ in advance. Pre-registration gives employers the option to take note of anyone they might especially like to meet at the show. But more than this, with your CV in circulation, a hiring manager might give you a call at any time, or look you up on Google or LinkedIn. Be prepared for an unexpected call, and perhaps give your digital footprint a spring clean to ensure your social media is on point and there’s nothing floating round the web you’d rather no one saw.
HINT: for added visibility, make sure you communicate your needs to the event organiser in advance.
2. Research registered employers
Research is key to making a good first impression and getting a head start on the competition. Find out in advance which organisations are attending, identify those that interest you and conduct your research. I know what you are thinking; ‘all recruiters at the job show will have fantastic freebies as well as organisation literature available on their stands, so I’ll read it then!’ The problem is, you often can’t access informative literature until after you’ve had a chat with the representative on the day. So look at their website in advance, make notes and don’t be afraid to check out their social media platforms too.
3. Prepare your questions
So you’ve pre-registered and made a list of all the organisations you’d like to speak with. The next step is to prepare the questions you’d like to ask.
Avoid asking questions that can easily be found on a company website, such as: ‘what does your organisation do?’ Instead gear your questions towards finding key pieces of information which could benefit you later in the selection process as well as reinforcing your interest in the organisation and highlighting your industry and sector knowledge.
If you were able to find out which individual in the organisation would be attending the job show, use this to your advantage, don’t be afraid to look them up on LinkedIn and consider the questions you’d like to ask them personally. Perhaps they started at the organisation as a junior member of staff and progressed very quickly. By showing your interest, they might share inside tips on how to get your foot firmly on the career ladder and keep climbing.
4. Take Multiple copies of your CV
Bring a stack of CVs to the job show; at least 2 for each company you’re interested in. Preparing your CVs in advance can help you get a real edge, so tailor your CV to specific sectors and job objectives where relevant.
Bring enough copies of each version of your CV so that you don’t run out at a crucial time. Also, make your CV scan friendly, or bring scan friendly versions. This means: no staples, good quality paper and avoid a double sided print. Often, recruiters return to the office after a job fair with stacks of CVs to scan into the database. Making your CV scan friendly will ensure yours is not missed from the pile.
If you have a portfolio of work, bring that along too. Showing a sample of your best work will be an added bonus.
5. Dress to impress
Polished business attire is an absolute must when attending a job fair. You’ll have about 7 seconds to make an impression, so make that time count. Dress to represent the brand of the organisation you are targeting: so smart casual or suited and booted. If you are unsure, take a look at the organisation’s LinkedIn page. Is the CEO wearing an open collar and no tie, or are all staff uniformly wearing smart clean-cut suits?
6. Networking with anyone and everyone
Job shows are all about networking. Of course you are there to connect with recruiters and build networks that will propel your career forward, but you never know where a recommendation or a tip on a job opening could come from, so make friends all over the place! Fellow jobseekers can also help by acting as your comrades in the job search – if anyone understands your struggle and eventual triumph, they will. Add them on LinkedIn, follow their progress and congratulate their achievements, as they could be your future colleagues!
7. Make time to follow up with all key recruiters
Last but certainly not least, ensure your job show experience does not end when you leave the event. Many jobseekers forget to follow up with recruiters, and lose an essential leverage they could have in remaining memorable and visible. A professional note requesting a LinkedIn connection is a great start. Or, take it one step further and really cement the connection by composing a short email thanking the recruiter for their time and highlighting your interest and qualifications for a specific post or the organisation in general.
For help in drafting a polite, punchy and professional email or letter, sign up to our INSYNC Career Climber pack, for all the tools you need to get ahead.
And those are the seven job show commandments. If you’d like more advice or have a specific question, we’re always happy to help, so do give us a call.