5 ways you can stand out from the crowd at a career fair

  • Mary Caldwell
  • For the AJC
12:20 p.m Monday, Dec. 18, 2017 Business

Career fairs are held as a way to attract lots of applicants to help fill open positions, but they can often feel like a cattle call.

Though it may seem like you're not getting enough meaningful time with potential employers to make a positive impression, there are ways to rise above the crowd.

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The following tips will help you stand out from the huge crowds – in a positive way – and increase your chances of landing a job:

Do your homework

Don't just wander around asking recruiters what positions they have open. Instead, prepare in advance, USA Today recommends, by preregistering online, uploading your resume and checking individual companies' websites. You can research their mission, top competitors and clients and also look for specific job openings that may fit your interests and skill set.

Make a good impression

A Monster.com interview expert questioned more than 40 job fair recruiters about their gut reactions to the way potential applicants dressed. Those who were dressed extremely casually were viewed as being unprepared, irresponsible, less educated and as having poor work habits. Applicants who showed up in conservative, business-appropriate clothing were viewed as being capable, well-educated, trustworthy and responsible.

The expert cites a study that revealed hiring managers often make a decision within the first 15 seconds of meeting you. With so little time to make a good impression, don't let your clothing turn recruiters off.

Be ready with your "elevator pitch"

U.S. News & World Report says you should be able to briefly introduce yourself and explain what you want to do in 20 seconds. Describe the type of job you're looking for (not just a generic "whatever you have open") and how you saw an opening on the company's website. You can then mention your qualifications that fit in nicely with this opening.

Ask the right questions.

Ask insightful questions, which means nothing about pay, vacation time or any other information that could easily be found online. Instead, the balance recommends mentioning a trend within the company and asking for the recruiter's opinion about it. You could also ask what the biggest challenges of the job are and how the recruiter would describe the company's culture.

These questions help demonstrate your seriousness and knowledge about the job and company.

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Follow up

Reach out to any contacts you made at the job fair to re-emphasize your interest in a position, recruiting and staffing services company Adecco suggests. This will help recruiters remember you and possibly give you an edge over applicants who fail to take this step.

You can contact the recruiter via email, handwritten note or voice mail, and if you can mention a small detail about your meeting or conversation, that's even better.

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