Ready For a Career Fair Near You? by Patricia Erickson

Have you been to a career fair lately? If not, take advantage! Here are a couple of simple tips that will make attending worth your while:

Tip Number 1: Get prepared by making a list of industries and employers in attendance at the event that are of interest. You certainly don't want to waste your time at booths of employers with jobs that are unrelated to your job search.

Tip Number 2: Dress appropriately by dressing as you would for an interview. You'll want to bring along a briefcase or writing portfolio so you can store your resumes and collect any brochures/contact information from various employer booths.

Tip Number 3: Since you're only targeting employers (and jobs) of interest to you, make sure your resume reflects just that. Align your resume closely to your job target to maximize your success.

Remember there is no such thing as an effective "one size fits all" resume. And, make sure you bring enough resumes!

Tip Number 4: If you don't have a career portfolio, consider creating one and bringing it to the event. Your career portfolio should showcase you and your experience. Also, do some digging and look at some examples to find out what makes a great portfolio. Don't just toss letters and certificates in a file folder - this is about presentation.

The career portfolio should include letters of recommendation and samples of your best work. If you're a recent graduate, your career portfolio could demonstrate your writing and research abilities; add relevant publications, presentations, and special reports. You could also include degrees, certifications, and licenses as well as any transcripts. You can round out the career portfolio with any volunteer and community service experience.

Tip Number 5: Be prepared for the possible "tell me about yourself" by having your unique selling proposition/personal brand, (whatever you want to call it) well conceived and practiced. Who knows, you might even have the opportunity to interview - so make sure you've got a couple of success stories and accomplishments to talk about. Ideally, you should be able to quickly demonstrate what a positive impact you'll have on the company. Don't take this one too lightly. In this economy the personal brand is one of the most important tools for an applicant. This is one way that an applicant is truly able to pull away from the pack simply by being memorable and demonstrating uniqueness.

Tip Number 6: Don't forget, this isn't all about you and how great you are. You want the company you're looking to work for to be great too, don' you? Make sure to check out the company to see if they're a good fit for you. You should have several questions ready for interviewers or recruiters. Keep salary, benefits and the like for a much later date!

Tip Number 7: Network, network! Build rapport and make key connections by getting in front of your targeted recruiters, employers, and other professionals. Put together a collection of business cards or write down contact information so you can reach out (ideally the next day) to each of the individuals you met.

Tip Number 8: Definitely send out handwritten thank you notes to any recruiters, HR reps, and other professionals you met.

Reiterate your interest in the job⁄company and highlight your strengths. Send your resume to the same group of professionals and follow up with a call! Use these easy tips and you'll be ready for anything at the next career fair!

Patricia Erickson is a certified professional resume writer and career coach who helps people get focused on making great impressions, getting interviews, and finding dream jobs. She works with clients to craft high impact resumes and implement step by step plans that get them in the door and hired. Before your next interview, be sure to claim your FREE Interview Fitness Toolkit, visit Patricia's site at A Vita Career Management.

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