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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


Maximize your job fair prospects

By Geoff Dillon
Special to The Toronto Sun

It's time to dust off your resume and work on your handshake -- job fair season has arrived again. As the weather turns warmer and companies turn their thoughts to hiring employees for the summer and beyond, job fairs begin popping up everywhere.

Job fairs are a great way to meet with representatives from many different companies at one time, with the knowledge that most of the companies are interested in hiring people in the near future.

Most job fairs will attract hundreds or even thousands of job seekers. In the face of this much competition, how do you maximize your chances of landing a job?

Scout out participants early
Most job fairs are advertised ahead of time in local or daily newspapers. They usually provide a list of the companies who will be attending. Make a hitlist of the some of the companies that you definitely want to meet with and make sure you seek them out when you arrive.

For example, if you are seeking a position in the retail sector, be sure to visit the booths of the various retail companies at the job fair.

Work the room
With so many companies in one place, it pays to be social. So after you've covered the companies that were on your hitlist, be sure to check out the other booths at the job fair. It's much easier to check them all out now, rather then trying to communicate with them individually by phone or e-mail later.

Bring plenty of resumes
While you may go to a job fair intending to target 10 or 12 well known companies, you might be surprised by what you find at other booths. Don't be caught short of resumes and miss out on a good opportunity. Always bring more than you think you'll need.

Take notes
You must have a pen and paper with you when you attend a job fair. Keep track of all of the companies that you give your resume to, and follow up with them in a few days to see if they might have a position for you.

If you meet someone from a company who seems interested in hiring you, write a star or checkmark beside their name to remind you to contact them as soon as possible after the job fair.

Grab those cards
Company representatives at job fairs will usually provide you with a business card. Be sure to collect as many as you can. They could prove to be valuable contacts in the future.

Follow Up
Each company operates differently at a job fair. Some will interview you right on the spot, and others will simply take your resume and review it before setting up an interview.

It is critical to follow up with the contacts you make at a job fair. These people will meet with hundreds of applicants over the course of a day or two, making it very easy for them to forget about your qualifications or worse, misplace your resume. Don't let them forget about you. Pick up the phone and let them know that you are interested in working for their company.

Job fairs can be a big step towards locating a new job or furthering your existing career if you know how to make the most of your time there.

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