How to successfully prepare for a career fair

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The national unemployment rate is 6.7 percent. That means 11.8 million Americans are without a job right now. So what do you do if you're one of the frustrated millions? You prepare better than others and maybe hope to be in the right place at the right time.

Stephany Beaver, a Senior Business Development Executive with Green Job Interview, has been a recruiter for more than 15 years. She's a person companies rely on to find their future employees.

She says job fairs are definitely one way to get out and make valuable connections, but not to go in believing you'll walk out with a job. She has the following advice for job seekers:

How to Prepare for a Career Fair:
• Research companies attending and look at their career section. Find the positions you are qualified for or if entry level positions you are interested in and apply.

• Prepare what you will say for specific positions when your face to face with the recruiter or hiring manager. You will only have 3-5 minutes to make a good impression!

• Bring 15 copies of your resume - you may not need them all but it's good to be prepared.

• Dress Successful and Appropriate for a Job Interview.  Business Professional is preferred.

• Do not bring children.

• Treat a Career Fair like an interview the entire time you are there.

• Be polite and professional to company representatives and others attending the career fair.

• First Impressions Count.

• Make your conversations count. Keep it short, simple and targeted. Most importantly, use your personality!

• Have a positive, enthusiastic approach.

• Attitude is everything!

• Get business cards and focus on follow-up.

"Finding a job is a job and it takes work - work being defined as utilizing job boards, researching targeted companies, talking to recruiters, going to career fairs and networking events," said Beaver.

She says career fairs are usually targeted towards entry level and mid-level positions, but if you've done your research and one of the companies in attendance at the job fair has an opening in an upper-level level position you're qualified for, go make a connection. Take your portfolio. Shake hands with a company representative.

"Shaking hands and making eye contact is the best possible way to get your foot in the door," said Beaver.

For information on the job fair schedule for July 17 in Overland Park, Kan.,  click here.

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