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Steps for Success at Career Expos
Since 80 percent of jobs are found through networking, it's essential when you are starting your job search to get out and sell yourself.
Career expos are great opportunities to meet face-to-face with the front-line decision makers at a wide range of top companies throughout the country. This is the ideal chance to ask questions, sell yourself, and gather valuable information that you wouldn't otherwise be able to obtain.
Here are seven steps to help you make the most of your expo experience. As with all networking events, you will find that your preparation and follow up are as important as what happens the day of.
1. Conduct thorough research. Recruiters are not impressed by job seekers who approach their booth and ask, "What does your company do?" or "What are you hiring for?" Before you arrive, find out who is attending and if possible the positions they're recruiting for. Visit the site of the organization who is running the event and the employer site directly. Research their products and services, their competitors, and any current news or events they're involved with.
2. Prepare a 30-second introduction. Many professionals are initially flustered when asked, "Tell me about yourself." Since you'll no doubt be introducing yourself over and over throughout the day, practice your pitch in advance of attending any important event. You only have a few seconds to make a strong first impression, and this easy exercise will minimize shyness. Start with your first and last name, then mention your background and expertise, as well as the type of position you're looking for. Be prepared to share two or three of your most impressive accomplishments. Smile while using a confident tone of voice, and pay particular attention to avoiding filler words such as "um" and "like." Your introduction will serve as a great springboard for further conversation.
3. Arrive dressed for success. Dress as if you were going to an interview. This may be a polished suit or well-coordinated separates, depending on your own sense of style. Interesting accessories often serve as a great conversation starter. Comfortable shoes are a must.
4. Don't measure success on the number of resumes you hand out. Some employers have paperless systems that prevent them from accepting resumes because it's not cost-efficient or time-effective for them to leave with hundreds of pieces of paper. Do not feel dejected if a recruiter asks you to submit your resume through their website. Instead, let them know that you'll follow the requested protocol and use this opportunity to ask questions that can't be answered online. For example, this is your chance to find out about their hiring process: What do they look for in the ideal candidate; how long does it take to fill a position; how many interviews might a candidate expect; is any testing required; when might they expect to make a decision?
5. Always get a name. Not every recruiter will want to hand out hundreds of business cards; however recruiters usually wear name tags. If you jot down the person's name and their company name, you can always track them down to follow up with a phone call or an email. Be sure to make notes of anything memorable from your conversation or any specific timing or follow-up procedures they mention.
6. Talk to other job candidates. Networking is your best source of new job leads. With hundreds of other professionals surrounding you, be sure to introduce yourself and strike up conversations. Don't view everyone as your competition. Many of the attendees might be able to offer you tips and ideas--whether it's a new resource to explore, a job lead, to consider or feedback on your resume.
7. Follow-up. Within 24 hours of leaving the event, send an email to the recruiters you spoke with. Remind them of who you were in the sea of applicants, let them know you've submitted your resume online (if that was required), give them the job requisition number you've applied for, reiterate your strong qualifications for the position, and ask them to kindly inform you of the next steps. This simple step will set you apart from other event attendees who mistakenly assume that the next steps are always in someone else's hands.
Tory Johnson is the CEO of Women For Hire and the Workplace Contributor on ABC's Good Morning America. Connect with her at www.womenforhire.com.
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