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RAMSEY: Job fair etiquette: It's more than showing up

It’s spring — the season of job fairs.

Once limited to the college campus, they are becoming a favorite tool of America’s recruiters in a variety of venues.

The thought of milling about with numerous would-be employers and hundreds of competitors can be overwhelming. If you go with a well-prepared plan, a good attitude and your best etiquette skills, you are most likely to leave with some solid connections and a number of promising interviews, leading to the desired job offer — or maybe more than you expected.

Remember that the interviewers are looking for employees to fill their needs. They want to appeal to you as much as you want to appeal to them. All those other jobseekers are not just your competition; they are possible networking contacts. View them as such and connect with them as well.

Do your homework before you go.

Get a list of the companies who will be represented, learn who they are and what they do. Then prioritize the ones you want to meet. Find out the location of their booths and plan your strategy. Visit the booths that most interest you first when your energy level is up and you are at your best.

Showing up and meandering around like a sightseer is a complete waste of time.

Prepare your own brief “infomercial” or as we now call it “your elevator speech” to introduce yourself. You should be able to state in under a minute your experience and education in a way that sounds natural and unrehearsed.

Take plenty of copies of your resume and have them handy. Recruiters are not impressed with jobseekers who have to shuffle through all their materials before producing a resume. They would prefer to hire people who are organized and prepared.

Most recruiters will have the usual “freebies” or promotional items to give away. Never help yourself. Your chances of getting an interview will go right down the tube if you give the impression that you’d rather have a Frisbee than a job.

Start every conversation with your best professional conduct — a firm handshake, eye contact, a smile and your informational introduction. Follow up immediately with any information requested, such as references and transcripts. And, of course, send a handwritten thank you note to the recruiters who spent their time with you.

Be sure you thank each interviewer or company representative three times with a verbal thank you onsite, an email note immediately following the event and last, but far from least, the everlasting and ever impressive handwritten note.

Your personal note will set you apart from your other competitors — as long as they haven’t read this article.

Don’t be shy and be prepared. These employers are looking for qualified people. They have jobs to offer or they wouldn’t be there.

 

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, professional speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-598-9812 or go to LydiaRamsey.com.

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