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When was the last time you attended a career fair?  Five years ago?  Ten?  Never?  Chances are the last time you went to a fair, it was in college.

But, career fairs are not just something for college students anymore.  They can be a great way to find an in person connection to a company you’ve been internet stalking for months.  They’re also an alternative to submitting your resume to the online application process black hole.

Here are my top five tips to making the most of your next career fair experience:

  1. Bring your business cards & resumes – You never know who you might meet at a career fair.  Bring plenty of business cards AND resumes.  If you don’t have any and you’re short on time, lean on an office store like FedEx to you started.
  2. Bring your cell phone (and keep it on) – Although you should keep you phone turned down low or on vibrate, keep it on during a career fair.  There’s a chance a recruiter may call and ask you to stop back by their booth to meet someone else, or to interview during the fair.  Put your cell phone number on your resume.  In fact, take off any phone number that’s not your cell during a career fair.
  3. Reach out to recruiters in advance – Many fairs allow you to submit your resume weeks or months before the fair.  This can help you to connect with recruiters and begin to schedule interviews in advance.  If you already have recruiters in your network, reach out to them to find out if they’ll be attending.
  4. Ask for on-site interviews – It’s a little known fact that many career fairs have private interview booths that are hidden away from the career fair floor.  Recruiters often have lists of positions they’re hiring for, and a schedule of available interview times.  Ask questions and find out if there’s anyway to get on their calendar during the fair.
  5. Follow up – When you get home from the career fair, send every recruiter you spoke with a thank you e-mail.  Follow up with a LinkedIn connection request to make the most of your new networking contact. If at possible, take these steps on the same day you attend the fair.

Last, but not least, continue to perfect your elevator pitch.  Practice introducing yourself.  You want to shake hands, and make eye contact while introducing yourself.  Explain what you do, and what you’re looking for.  This simple and concise message will open to the door to further conversations about job opportunities.

Lucky for Tennesseans, there are multiple career fair options coming up in 2014 to practice these skills.  First, the Multicultural Career Fair will be held in Memphis on April 13th at the Hilton.  To learn more about this great event, check out my blog post about it.  This will be an excellent opportunity for those in Memphis to work on their networking skills and professional development while searching for a new job.

I will also announce a national career fair on Thursday, so check back on my blog for all the details.

I hope these tips have helped you.  Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland

@CopelandCoach

Author: Angela Copeland

Angela Copeland is Founder and Coach for Copeland Coaching, a great way to jump start your job search. Follow her on Twitter @CopelandCoach for tips on finding the perfect job for you.

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