Making the most of a career fair

March 31, 2016
Carter Dyson

Carter Dyson

The upcoming 2016 Regional Job and Career Fair Expo is an excellent opportunity for job seekers to discover employment opportunities and to speak with local employers in person, and with some preparation, job seekers can reap the most benefit from their attendance.

“Our region is full of great jobs with great companies who are eager to meet excited, passionate applicants searching not just for a job, but for a career,” said Lisa Ellis-Malota, who is president of Elizabethtown Society of Human Resource Management (ESHRM) and a part of the human resources team at Fort Knox Federal Credit Union. “A little planning and preparation will really help job seekers stand out.”

The career fair, held 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. April 21 at the Pritchard Community Center in Elizabethtown, is sponsored by Hardin County Chamber of Commerce, Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail, ESHRM and KYJOBS.net.

The following tips, provided by the KCC-LT and ESHRM, will help ensure job seekers make the most of their time at the 2016 Regional Job and Career Fair Expo.

Prepare your resume. If you already have a resume, review it to make sure it includes your most current experience. If you need help creating or refining a resume, career counselors at the KCC-LT can help. Plus, members of ESHRM will be available during the fair to assist you.

Determine which employers to meet. A list of participating employers will be provided, so make a game plan for speaking with representatives of the companies that interest you. Research these companies to learn what they do and what type of employees they want to hire. Determine how your skills and interests fit the company’s needs, and prepare thoughtful questions in advance.

It also is important to keep an open mind as you develop your plan and when speaking with employers, which can allow for more opportunities.

“Starting at entry level and working your way up is not a bad thing,” Ellis-Malota said. “What someone may lack in knowledge of certain positions can be more than made up for in self-motivation, self-direction and follow through.”

Plan a brief introduction. Employers want to know about you. Be prepared to showcase your skills and experience in a short pitch. In 30 seconds or less, explain who you are, what you do and how your abilities meet the employer’s needs. Practice several versions of your pitch so you can deliver it with confidence, sounding conversational rather than rehearsed.

Dress for success. First impressions are significant. Keep that in mind when choosing what to wear to the job fair and how to present yourself. Business attire is most appropriate and sends a positive message to an employer. Make sure your clothes are clean, pressed and modest.

Bring supplies. If you have your resume prepared, be sure to bring plenty of copies. Carrying them in a portfolio will help you stay organized and appear professional while also providing a space to jot down notes and collect business cards, employer literature and other items. 

Arrive early. Give yourself time to speak with as many of the employers on your list as possible.

Show initiative. When meeting employers, demonstrate interest by shaking hands and introducing yourself, as well asking appropriate questions. Maintain eye contact and be attentive and polite.

Follow up with employers. By sending a thank-you note or email a day or two after the job fair, you will reintroduce yourself to an employer, reinforce your interest in the company and show that you are serious in your job search.

For more information about no-cost services that can help you prepare, contact the Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail or visit www.ltcareercenter.org.

Carter Dyson is One Stop Director for Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail, which is overseen by the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board. He can be reached at 270-766-5115 or carter.dyson@ky.gov.

The Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail helps match job seekers with local employment and training opportunities. Our business solutions team offers employers of all sizes and industries personalized support to build a competitive workforce. We are an equal opportunity employer.
Program is funded with Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I funds through the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet and the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board.
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