A career fair represents a traditional way to network your skills into landing a good position. You come to the fair armed with copies of your resume and maybe even some business cards. Don't forget to talk to recruiters, as they gauge your personality when you converse with them. One thing you may not realize is that what you do after the job fair is also important for your job search.
Look at each business card you collected at the career fair. Sit down at your computer or use your mobile device to take notes on each person you contacted. Remember an aspect of the conversation you had, and absolutely remember to note the next steps in your search. The recruiter should have told you what to do next.
Send a Thank You Note
A handwritten thank you note is a nice touch that not a lot of people use to capture a person's attention. In a digital age of emails, social media and LinkedIn profiles, a handwritten note seems old-fashioned. However, this type of correspondence leaves an impression for two reasons. First, it's thoughtful that you took the extra time to handwrite a note. Second, you can personalize the note to talk about the conversation you had at the career fair. Mention the most memorable aspect of your conversation because that jogs the recruiter's memory as you apply for a job.
Personalize Your Application
Personalize your application to the company's representative you met, especially as you compose a compelling cover letter for your application. Reference the job duties for the position, but also the conversation you had with the recruiter. Again, this shows your thoughtfulness and your dedication to the company. A personalized cover letter makes you more memorable.
Vet Your Resume
Double-check your resume for any typos, misspellings or grammatical errors. Look to see if all of the information is current. Delete any information that's not relevant to the job at hand. Just like your cover letter, the resume should cater to the company you saw at the career fair with the right keywords for the listed qualifications.
Prepare for the Interview
You met a ton of people at the career fair. Chances are good that at least one of those recruiters likes your skill set enough to call you for an interview. Prepare for the interview by going over the questions you may face, what questions you want to ask and behavioral tips for during the interview. Thoroughly research the company so you have something in mind for conversation starters. Get your formal outfit ready by sending it to the dry cleaners for a fresh look.
Get Ready for More
If you didn't land a job during this round, don't worry. There will be more fairs in the future. Order additional business cards as you probably passed out a lot of them at the last job fair. Get ready to network some more at the next fair, and search online job boards for more opportunities.
A career fair is one aspect of a job search that's still relevant in a digital world. Following up after the fair is just as crucial as making your introductions because you're competing against everyone else who attended the event.
Photo courtesy of University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability at Flickr.com