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Job Fairs aren't really Job Fairs and how to prep for them.

Military to Civilian Transition

I have attended my share of Job Fairs and Job Expos, both as a potential applicant and as an employee at a booth. These events are neither Job Fairs nor Job Expos.

They are both “First Impression Fairs”.

Let me explain:

The companies that send representatives to these events do it for one or more of the following reasons:

  1. They actually have jobs they need to fill.
  2. They need to understand the current marketplace for the jobs they are offering or may be offering shortly.
  3. There is a corporate requirement to attend “x” number of events per year.

These company representatives are not there to actually hire people. They are there to collect resumes and do a quick once over the world discussion with you to see if you might be a cultural fit for the company.

How do I know this?
• No company in Corporate America today hires on the spot.
• Very few are hiring managers.
• None are decision-makers.
• Nobody is sitting there with a stack of offer letters to sign.
• I’ve done it.

So how do you actually prep for these?

  1. Get your mindset right. Understand that the purpose of this interaction is for you to get your first interview with this company.
  2. Have enough copies of your resume.
  3. Dress professionally but with something that stands out in a crowd. For men, a dark pinstripe, two or three-button suit, white shirt, and appropriate tie is typical. I prefer my dark green double-breasted suit, white shirt and tie because I look good in green. Men – ask your significant other what pops on you.
  4. Research what companies will be there and what open jobs they have posted.
  5. Get comfortable with your authentic self. If you come across as inauthentic, they’ll know.
  6. Be prepared to listen actively to the people at the booth and be present in the conversation. This will allow you to not only frame specific and appropriate questions but will also ensure you understand if this company is a good fit for you.
  7. And finally, remember that this is NOT about you. From their perspective, it’s all about them. In a good way.

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