How to become a career fair hero ( with infographics)

March 23, 20152:00 pm218 views

It’s career fair season again.

A three-day Career and Education fair concluded less than a week ago. And they have 65,000 jobs available. That is 1.85% of the Singapore working population. If all these are filled, Singapore unemployment rate is virtually ZERO.

You missed that?

Not to worry. There is another career fair by STJobs that will be held on the 28th and 29th of March at Suntec City. Right after that, you can look forward to Asia Talent Summit – it’s the only career fair that targets senior level executives with jobs across APAC.

But for many people, career fairs just seemed such a waste of time. It’s crowded, every exhibitor is so busy to talk to you and you don’t ever remember getting a call to bring your application to the next stage.

I’m not surprise. Many job seekers get little/zero mileage from career fairs. They do get a lot of freebies but that isn’t why you are there.

Typical job application

Let’s look at how a typical job seekers apply for jobs. They would rummage through newspapers or job portals and shoots out their resume as quickly as they can. So in an hour you probably have shot out to > 50 employers and recruiters. Now you can sit back and read a book, thinking that the recipients would be fighting out gladiator style to secure your service and your phone line would be jammed by incoming calls.

Except you get crickets.

That is usually because the ease of convenience of job applications has made many of us lazy and complacent when it comes to job search. We just double down and increase the quantity, thinking that it is a numbers game.

Now imagine you have 200,000 job seekers doing the same thing. Employers and Recruiters would drown in resumes and applications when they turn on their computer.

Can Career Fair help?

With so much unnecessary online traffic that is bogging down precious time of HR and recruiters, career fair appear as a great alternative to actual recruiting. However unwanted traffic persist, they only morph from online to on foot.

For online application, the recipient could easily move on from unsuitable candidate. You can’t do that when you are face-to-face with a candidate, no matter how unsuitable he/she may be.

So you can imagine how tired the recruiter would be after 8 hours at the booth?

How can this help me?

For candidates who are simply applying their online job application approach to career fair, they are going to waste another day with only a goodie bag to lament to back home.

There is a saying in Mandarin. Loosely translated it meant “Ten minutes of stage time is a result of ten years of efforts”. Many job seekers do zero planning when it comes to career fair. They do not know what to expect and choose to let the situation and circumstance guide them instead.

If you are not in control of your destiny, then you are part of someone else’s.

Be A Career Fair Hero

Here’s the Plan

  1. Do your prep work – get a copy of the exhibitor’s map to understand who would be there and where they are located. Why spend 8 hours to roam the fair when you could complete your objective in 4 hours? Knowing how the layout is like would also allow you to better schedule your itinerary and make sure no booth gets missed out.
  2. Be realistic about your suitability – Many applications get ignored or discarded because the applicants are just not suitable for the job. If you really think you are, you have to be able to convince with your elevator pitch and substantiate in your resume. Because if you can’t stand out from the 50,000 other job seekers, you are going to suffer the same disappointing fate as them.
  3. Go early – Manning the booth is really tiring. If you go there during peak hours (after lunch), you would be speaking with zombies. And usually you would have someone senior to open the booth and ensure all is okay. Timing it right would ensure you have the luxury of time to speak with fresh and chirpy exhibitors. You might even catch the decision maker and magnify your impression.
  4. Look sharp – It is a career fair, not an IT fair and definitely not a baby expo. I had seen people that are best dressed for the wet market and there was even a couple pushing their baby strollers around. It says so much about your seriousness.
  5. Get their name cards – If you are going to speak with 100 different people a day, chances are you won’t be able to remember most of them. Yes you would have passed them your resume. It is kept together with the 499 resumes collected that day. Depending on where it sits, you might need to wait a while (or a long time). Make it a point to follow up to reaffirm your interest in the role that you have talked about.
  6. Hook up with them on LinkedIN – You spend a full day expanding your network. Don’t let the efforts go to waste. The easiest way to keep a log on this is to connect with them on LinkedIN. There is a section under Relationship | How you met. That is a good way to remind yourself especially when your connection size is huge.
  7. Don’t forget to get tips – There might be cases where your experience just doesn’t fit the role then. Don’t just walk away! There will always be a time when point A to point B is a bit windy and might even require a detour. Use the opportunity to ask for direction. And by this I mean to ask them question like “What would you say I should do from now to qualify for such roles in the future?”. And you get yourself a free counseling session.

A trip to the career fair can be fruitful but you need to work at it and do lots of prep work to stand out from the crowd and finish as a career fair hero.

I will be one of the speaker at STJobs Express 2015 over 28/29 Mar 3pm. Hope to see you there!