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Make Career Fairs & Recruiting Events Work for Your Job Search

Our purpose at Career Fair Plus (CF+) is to help event organizers improve outcomes for their job seekers. We listen to employer and candidate feedback to continually improve our recruiting technology.

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Four former college and university recruiters launched CF+ in 2012 based on the shared certainty they could enhance employer and job seeker interactions during in-person recruiting events with proprietary technology.

More than nine years later, millions of applicants have connected with tens of thousands of employers during dozens of different types of recruiting programs.

How to make recruiting events work for you

Before the unanticipated and abrupt shift to online recruiting in 2020, career fairs welcomed employers and candidates ready to shake hands and share basic information face-to-face. But after more than a year of virtual recruiting, attendees want event hosts to include tech-driven features such as previewing resumes, exploring company profiles, and scheduling meetings as they resume offering on-site recruiting programs.

You’re probably familiar with these--and other--online tools, but depending on when you started your job search, in-person recruiting might be a new experience. This article asks and answers five questions about career fairs:

Keep reading to learn how to use recruiting events to your advantage.

 

What are the differences between in-person, virtual, and hybrid recruiting events?

Companies, universities, and organizations host in-person and virtual recruiting events to create employer-candidate connections. The difference is obvious: people gather in one physical location for on-site programs compared to meeting online during virtual events.

Hybrid career fairs and other recruiting events blend the benefits of virtual and in-person events into one safe, personal, and cost-effective recruiting experience. Career Fair Plus organizes three different hybrid formats:

  • Different Days -- Participants choose to attend the virtual day, the in-person day, or both.
  • Same Day-Different Times -- Virtual and in-person events occur on the same day but do not overlap. Attendees choose to participate virtually, in-person, or both.
  • Same Day-Same Time -- One day where participants choose to attend virtually, in-person or both.

So, the fundamental difference between in-person, virtual, and hybrid recruiting events is the where or how you engage with employers. It's also helpful to understand the differences between career fairs, hiring events, and other types of recruiting programs you might attend during your job search.

 

Who hosts which type of recruiting events?

Leaders in multiple sectors choose a wide variety of in-person, online, or hybrid events as a means of filling open positions and developing a pipeline for future placement.

Career fairs and hiring events are two of the most well-known programs, each with different goals. Job seekers attend career fairs for the chance to talk with employers, learn about future opportunities, and attend webinars or seminars related to different career paths. However, a hiring fair means employers extend job offers during the event or very soon after.

And because not all job seekers are college students, there are various programs connecting them to potential employers, too.

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What are the benefits of attending recruiting programs?

There are multiple advantages of participating in recruiting events, some you’ll notice immediately, and others you’ll realize over time. Here are some of our favorite reasons for job seekers to attend organized recruiting programs:

  1. Increasing your comfort level speaking and interviewing with potential employers
  2. Practicing how to showcase your personal brand
  3. Discovering career opportunities that fit your experience and goals
  4. Gathering deeper information about your target employers
  5. Building your professional network
  6. Expanding your industry knowledge during employer-sponsored information sessions
  7. Getting a job (or internship)!
Also helpful:

5 Things to Know Before You Attend a Job Fair

The Most Important Thing You Can Do To Prepare For a Career Fair

How do I get the most from a recruiting event?

Excellent question, we’re glad you asked!

OK, we asked it but you’re probably thinking it. You’ll be familiar with some of these suggestions, and others might take a little extra strategizing:

  1. Bring a current resume: even if it's posted online somewhere, you want to be responsive if someone requests a copy!
  2. Know your “story,” practice sharing it, and accept feedback with an open mind.
  3. Develop that 15-second elevator pitch or positioning statement to show off your differentiators. Thinking of it as an intentionally-crafted MadLib might help:
    1. Hi.  I’m _____, and I love _____. I’m looking to_____ by _____. 
      Example: “Hi, I’m Alex, and I think books are magical. I want to help grow early readers by teaching kindergarteners.”
    2. I’m _____which means I ____ to ________.
      Example: “I’m naturally curious and attentive, which means I gather unusual information to help frame a fresh message within an appropriate context for your industry.”
    3. Hi, I’m _________ and I have experience as a _______. I used my skills in _____ to make an impact on _____. 
      Example: “Hi, I’m Anne and I have experience as a rocket scientist where I used my skills to build rockets that landed regular people on the moon 50% sooner than projected.”
    4. Follow up with a question to get the conversation started:
      Examples: What can you tell me about the opportunities at your company? 
      What can you tell me about the opportunities at your company?
      What projects would someone in this position work on?
      What are you looking for in candidates for this position?
  4. Have a practical, meaningful, and concise answer for the request to “Tell me about yourself.” For example, highlight your work strengths (“My supervisor commends my attention to detail.”) and share something to pique their interest (“I started building computers in middle school.”)
  5. Dress appropriately. Check out employee pictures on your target companies’ websites for some guidance.
  6. Research the history, mission, value statements, careers page, social media pages, products/services, and/or goals of your target employers.
  7. Plan whom you want to talk to and what you’ll say to them.
  8. Look for professional development opportunities such as internships or open houses.
  9. If it’s a virtual fair or a technology-enhanced on-site fair, pre-register, complete your profile, and upload your resume early so employers know you’re attending.
  10. Memorize your response(s) when they ask you, “Do you have any questions?”
  11. Have a doable follow-up plan ready to launch as soon as the event ends.

Also helpful:

Job Fair Tips That Actually Work

 

Congrats, you landed an interview! Now what?

All your hard work and practice answering questions paid off. Way to go! Time to shift mental gears from maximizing recruiting events to rocking the interview. But, good news! It’s a faster, easier shift than you might think.

Prepare

Review and refresh your resume again, especially if you can add new experiences since the recruiting event where you first met company representatives. Similarly, take another look at your elevator pitch and personal story. Do you want, or need, to change anything? Again, now’s the perfect time to revise.

Practice

Call a friend or clean off a mirror but get ready to share your career highlights and elevator pitch again. If someone’s helping you rehearse, ask them about your eye contact, facial expressions, and overall body language. Do you appear welcoming and confident, or are you looking around the room while you talk?

Present

It’s interview time! Trust your knowledge, passion for the work, and all that practice to share why you’re their best choice. Confidently and directly answer their questions, then ask two or three of your own. Be polite (seems obvious, but it’s easy to forget “please” and “thank you” in new situations), be honest, and remember the correct spelling and job title of your interviewer(s) for the next step.

Follow-up

Send a hand-written thank you note to each interviewer and, if possible, the HR person who organized the day. Compose the note yourself or personalize a sample you find online. Because many people decide this step is old-fashioned, the candidates who make an effort can truly stand out.

Interviewing is stressful, but preparation and the right support can decrease anxiety and increase your chances of success. Check out the CF+ article, Be Prepared: Behavioral Questions, for more tips and encouragement!

 


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