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Is attending a Job Fair a good idea?
You may have heard about 'Job Fairs' from a friend or seen an advertisement in the newspaper. And, to be honest, multiple employers under one roof sounds like a great idea. If you are a fresh graduate or an executive with one to two years of experience, these can be great events to help you evaluate your career options in the BPO, hospitality, retail or IT sectors.
A job fair is an event usually organised by a third party recruitment consultant at a neutral venue like a school or college auditorium. More and more companies are saving time and effort by participating in fairs, as they can put up a stall and meet multiple candidates on the same day. This medium is popular with companies in the BPO, retail, hospitality and banking sectors.
What's in it for you?
Many job seekers tend to overlook job fairs as they may be viewed as crowded, competitive and confusing, considering there are so many recruiters. Also, you need to invest more time (at times, a full day) to evaluate all options available. Job fairs give you the opportunity to contact many potential employers at one place, learn more about the companies you are interested in, meet and share ideas with fellow job seekers and build professional contacts. Not to forget, there is a good chance you may even land a job!
. What to bring: Pack 20-25 copies of your resume, which effectively represent your educational background, skills and abilities. Proof read your resume and print it on plain white or cream-coloured paper. If there will be companies from multiple sectors -- for instance, if you want to apply to a BPO outfit as well as in the retail sector -- you may want to carry two resumes with different career objectives.
Carry all your documents in a professional manner -- a neat folder or executive file is fine. Do not carry them in a polythene bag or in your hands. Make sure you have copies of your resume, mark- sheets, certificates and reference letters in your file.
. What to wear: Stick to conservative professional attire and be neatly groomed. Avoid jeans and T-shirts and go for business casuals. You can't go wrong by dressing as you would for an interview or business meeting. Leave your backpack, large purse or other college paraphernalia at home.
A list of employers scheduled to attend is usually available in the advertisement or Web site sponsoring the event. Select companies you would like to target and visit their Web sites to get some basic information like � turnover of the company, number of employees, products and services offered, etc. Note down this information on a notepad and carry it in your file.
If the job fair is scheduled to start at 10 am, be there by 10.15 am. The recruiters are fresh and attentive during the start of the day and most of your competition may not even have arrived yet. Visit the stalls of employers you are most interested in working for first.
Don't hit multiple stalls with a group of friends. Interact with recruiters on your own. Make your own positive impression, as this is not a group activity. "Candidates generally tend to rush from one 'shop' to another, which is highly unadvisable. They should be more focused in their approach in terms of profile, salary or brand, whatever the priority may be," says Delhi based Abbas Rizwi, Director of Eternity Placements, which organises job fairs and off site interviews.
Be ready with your two to three line sales script to share basic information about yourself and your career interests. Smile, provide a firm handshake and say: "Good morning. My name is Rohini Sharma and I am an Economics honours graduate from Delhi University. I am interested in the role of a Relationship Officer in your bank. I did my summer raining with XYZ Company and developed an interest in retail banking. Here is my resume for your review."
Step back enough to listen to the employers speaking to other candidates and decide if you need to adjust your pitch. You'll probably be asked to fill out an application form after you submit your resume. Be sure to bring a pen and a 'cheat sheet' with the information you'll need to complete job applications on the spot. This is less cumbersome than copying everything from your resume and will save you time.
Be prepared for an interview. Some companies may have booked exclusive space to conduct interviews with candidates they like. Here are some questions you can ask to show genuine interest:
. What kind of assignments do you give to new recruits?
. What type of training is provided?
. What career opportunities are available in your organisation?
Keep track of where you submit your resumes and make a list of companies you apply to. Take notes about conversations you have with representatives or topics discussed during interviews. This will help you when you get a call from them later.
Some companies, especially BPOs, may even make you the final offer on the spot. It helps to do some research and find out the salary range for positions you are interested in. Companies usually have standard slabs and do not negotiate with freshers.
. Get business cards: Collect business cards from recruiters you speak to. Make small notes about the company and job profile offered on the back of the card. Use this information later to follow up if their offer sounds lucrative.
. Brochures/CDs/pamphlets: Most companies stock these and other data at their stall. Pick them up for future reference, as you won't have time to deal with these at the fair.
. Send a thank-you note, if possible.
. Send a thank-you note to every employer you speak to at the career fair if you have their e-mail IDs.
So, attend the next job fair in your city and walk out with a job offer!
-- The writer is a training consultant and freelance writer based in New Delhi.
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