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Ask Matt: Are job fairs a good way to find work?

  • Article by: MATT KRUMRIE
  • March 24, 2014 - 9:40 AM

Dear Matt: It seems like job fairs pop up every spring. Are these still a good way to find a job? How can I get the most out of a job fair?

Matt says: Despite the impact of technology and social media on the job search, job fairs are still an effective tool because they provide the opportunity to meet face-to-face with employers actively looking to hire.

To get the most out of a job fair, research the companies attending. Apply online for open jobs before the event, if possible. Find that company at the job fair, introduce yourself and mention the position for which you have applied or are interested in learning more about.

“As recruiters, we want to know that people have already applied on our website and are stopping by to meet us to learn more about the role and express their excitement about the open position,” says Sean Fetterman, a Senior Staffing Specialist with Andersen Corporation (andersoncorp.com), the largest window and door manufacturer in North America.

Andersen will have a recruiter on-site interviewing for sales and canvassing roles at the Get Jobs Job Fair, Thursday, March 27 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Eagan Civic Arena (3870 Pilot Knob Road, Eagan). Nearly 80 employers will be at this annual event (mn.gov/deed/getjobs) looking to fill entry-level to professional positions. There are also a number of other job fairs planned for the spring (mn.gov/deed/events) and these same strategies apply.

Dress for success, bring a padfolio with numerous copies of your résumé and treat each and every introduction, handshake and discussion like an interview, because that’s what it is.

“Job seekers need to know they are always being interviewed even if they do not feel like an interview is being conducted,” says Sara Shore, Director of Recruiting for Award Staffing (awardstaffing.com), another company looking to fill open positions at the Get Jobs Job Fair. “When a recruiter meets with a job seeker they are quick to size up a person’s disposition and determine if the candidate would be a good fit for their work culture. Make eye contact, shake their hand, be friendly.”

Don’t panic if you can’t attend a job fair as soon as it starts, says Corla Inskeep of The Right Staff (therightstaff.com), which will also be attending the Get Jobs Job Fair. “While it is great to arrive early, employers cannot interview everyone at once,” she says. “Be patient. Consider attending midafternoon to avoid the early rush. You may get more personal attention.”

It helps to know about a company beforehand, but don’t ignore a booth just because you are not familiar with that company. Just be prepared to clearly articulate your skills and goals to determine if it’s a fit. “Take a chance on some employers,” says Inskeep. “You never know if they know someone who knows someone who may be the perfect contact for you.”

Contact Matt at jobslink@startribune.com.

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