Making the Most of a Career Fair
Career fairs give you the opportunity to learn about and explore many different organizations. Do some research on the companies that will be at the career fair. Find out what types of jobs they have – often times this is listed on the career fair website, but can also be found on the company’s website. Determine if the company’s mission and services are something that suit you. Try to get a feel for the company culture and those that work for the organization (again, something that you can get a sense of from a company website and also the representatives at the actual career fair). The more you know about the organization going into the career fair, the more prepared and confident you will feel when approaching employers.
Build a Strong Resume
Focus your content on work experiences that you have had. Remember to use action words and ‘measurables’ in your brief descriptions of work experience. Employers are looking for what you actually accomplished and how you did so, not just a job description. Be honest about your accomplishments and don’t go overboard using action words that are not descriptive of your accomplishments. Keep the resume formatted neatly using a professional layout with white space, bulleted phrases, and a logical order. There are a number of templates online or available through AgCareers.com to help build a strong resume.
If you have done your homework and know a few employers that are going to be at the career fair that you have a high level of interest in, you might consider a customized resume that outlines the specific job you have interest in. This can be done with a tailored objective statement or through a cover letter.
One note about resumes, most employers have really tried to get to a point where they can accept resumes at the career fair, but some may still ask you to submit your resume online through their website. Don’t let this discourage you. It does not mean that they don’t have interest in you. The company likely gets a lot of resumes and has to have resumes submitted online in order to be tracked and managed according to governmental regulations.
Make a Great First Impression
Beyond clothing, consider the rest of your appearance or presence. Ladies, keep makeup and perfume minimal. Gentleman, same for you – keep cologne and aftershave minimal. Some organizations are becoming more accepting of piercings and tattoos, but within the agriculture industry the overall population of employers tends to be pretty conservative still. Consider this as you dress and make the determination of what you have visible based on your discretion given this information.
The handshake….yes it is important! Have a firm yet not too strong handshake. Look the person in the eye and clearly state your name. Practice your handshake with a friend and ask for feedback. Having a good handshake is something that you’ll use long after the career fair!
What Do I Say?
What if it is a company you don’t know or hadn’t researched? Don’t be afraid to approach them. Be honest and let the representative know that you aren’t very familiar with the company, but would like to learn more about the organization and opportunities they have available. Hopefully this will be a rare occurrence because you’ve done your homework, but it does happen. Not all employers make it onto the list of participating employers in time.
When you know what that next step is, be sure if you are doing the follow-up that you make yourself a note and actually follow through in the given timeframe. If the employer has said they’d be doing the follow-up and you have not heard back from them in the time period given, remember that these representatives are busy traveling to career fairs and have a lot of students to connect with. Give them an additional week and if you still haven’t heard from them, try reaching out to them via email or phone. Ask if they could provide an update on where they are at in their hiring process.
When leaving a career fair booth, don’t be afraid to take promotional material that is offered. Don’t go overboard on taking all of the fun giveaways, but it is okay to take one if you’d like one. Companies have them there for a reason! Be sure to say thank you to the company representative. It is a simple gesture, but makes a great impression!
Career fairs don’t have to be overwhelming or stressful. With a little preparation and planning, you can go into a career fair confident and with purpose. Make the most out of a career fair and use the opportunity to explore the wide variety of opportunities that the agriculture industry holds! For further advice, email AgCareers.com at email@example.com.