Job Searching with Facebook

If you’re a savvy job-seeker, you already know that social media is a crucial job search tool – for establishing your personal brand, expanding your network, and discovering the hidden job market. But what you may not know is, there is a new tool you can add to your social media job search toolkit. Facebook has recently launched Facebook Jobs, an app which allows you to find and apply for jobs directly through Facebook.

How to use facebook jobs

Once you log into your personal Facebook page, the Jobs tool is visible on the left sidebar under “Explore.”

Click on the Jobs tab and you will see:

  • the Location that determines which job openings are shown
  • a list of Job-Type boxes so you can narrow down the search by Full-Time, Part-Time, Internship, and so on
  • a list of Industry boxes so you can narrow down what types of jobs interest you
  • a Search jobs field if you would like to search for jobs with certain key terms

Depending on what search terms you use, you will see “posts” for job openings in your Location area, Industry, and Job Type. If you see a position that interests you have the option to click on Apply Now – but you might not want to.

One Major caveat

The Facebook Jobs tool has one great advantage, which is that it makes it very easy and convenient for you to look for a variety of jobs at once. Much like aggregate job posting sites such as Indeed, it’s a time-saving one-stop shop for job searchers. But once you find a job you’d like to apply for, we recommend that you do not actually apply for the job through Facebook itself (unless that is the only option). We strongly recommend that you go to the company’s official website and apply there instead.

We have two major reasons for this recommendation. First, many people see Facebook as a place of play, not a place of business. Submitting your application that way may cause you to be taken less seriously, especially if the application links directly to your personal Facebook page – which is probably much less polished and professional-looking than your resume or LinkedIn profile. Second, there is always a risk that you will be sharing your information with a suspicious source. There are a lot of scam artists who lure in victims with fake job offers, and Facebook may not be able to thoroughly vet them all. Thus, the company’s official website is the safer bet.

Applying for a job through facebook

Again, we recommend that you don’t do this, and use the company’s official website instead. However, sometimes that’s not an option. If the job can only be applied for on Facebook (and you’re certain that it’s legitimate),  click “Apply Now” on the job posting. This opens up a rudimentary job application form where you can provide contact information, education, and experience. There is also an option to be notified by that organization about other job openings.

Advertising a job through facebook

If you run a small business with a corporate Facebook page, you can use the Facebook Jobs tool to advertise your job openings. This may be a good way to expand your pool of applicants, because far more people will see your openings here than on your company website. Once you log into your corporate page, there is a button for Publish a job post.

That opens a form on which the organization can post the open position with places to add information about Job Title, Location, Salary, Job Type, Details, Additional Questions, and a Photo if desired (such as a business or company logo).

Overall impression

Whether the Facebook Jobs tool is useful to you will depend on your needs and circumstances. If you have highly specialized skills, or if you are only interested in a handful of companies, this tool may not help you find what you’re looking for. If, however, you’re not completely sure what you want or where to find it, this tool can be a great way to look at a large variety of local job listings with a minimum of fuss. We saw lots of openings for retail, food service, caregiver, and labor positions, but there’s a little of everything and a few off-the-wall postings you’d have trouble finding elsewhere. In general, we think it’s a good tool to help both companies and job-seekers.

Written by Richard Wright and Lynnette Lee

New Resource: Job Search Quiz

Test your Career know-how with our Job Search Quiz

The Career Center recently added a new resource to its website: a job search quiz. This 20-question, true-false quiz will test your knowledge of general job search techniques, interviewing, resume-writing, and networking.

The quiz’s most helpful feature: after your test is scored, you will be provided with detailed explanations for each question. These explanations will help you become a savvier job-seeker and increase your likelihood of success landing a great job.

You may take the quiz here or on the Job Search page of our website. As always, if you would like further assistance with any aspect of your job search, contact the Career Center at 225-231-3733.

Written by Lynnette Lee

Work@Home 101: How to Find Legitimate Work-From-Home Opportunities

If you’ve missed our seminar “Work @ Home 101”, here are the key takeaways:

No commute, no dress code, no office politics, and more flexibility. That’s what attracts most people to look into working from home. Thanks to technological advances, work-at-home opportunities are more plentiful than ever before. But how to find the best opportunities? How do you beware of scams? And is working from home really as good as it seems?

While the before mentioned advantages are real, there are distinct disadvantages to working from home as well. Do you have the self-discipline not to give in to the distractions of being at home, such as surfing the web, doing housework, reading a book, or talking to friends? Are you okay with no person-to- person interaction all day? Many jobs feature interaction through chat, phone, or video call, but it’s still not the same as being around others in person. There are also no clear limitations between being “at work” and “at home”.

However, if you have determined that working from home suits your lifestyle, the next step is to figure out, which opportunities are the best fit for you.

Independent contractor or employee?

Both kinds of employment are available virtually and both have their pros and cons. Being an employee usually means that you only work for that specific employer, have regular hours, and receive benefits such as paid time off and, ideally, health and retirement benefits. In most cases, the employer will furnish equipment like laptop and/or telephone.

As an independent contractor, you provide services to an organization but are not their employee. As such, you are not eligible for benefits and mostly have to furnish your own equipment. But you can also set your own hours and only work when you want to. This set-up provides ultimate flexibility and you can work for several organizations at the same time. The majority of work at home opportunities will fall into this category!

Where to find legitimate work-at-home jobs?

There is a one-stop-shop for virtual job postings. Your first go-to website should be Rat Race Rebellion. It’s not the most user-friendly site, but in turn it is free. Rat Race Rebellion provides the most comprehensive list of links to legitimate work-at-home opportunities of all kinds: employee and independent contractor, large and small companies, from healthcare to education to call centers, it covers every industry.

Another legitimate website is Flexjobs. Flexjobs’ mission is to provide flexible work opportunities, not just virtual ones. Therefore, a lot of their jobs are actually not work-from-home, so you have to dig through their listings to find the virtual opportunities. You can browse the listings for free, but in order to get company name and contact information you have to join flexjobs, which charges you a monthly fee! Therefore, browse the listings first in order to determine if it is worth for you to join.

Last but not least there are online market places such as Upwork and Workmarket. Upwork is literally an online marketplace where anybody can post projects that they need to hire somebody with a specific expertise for. Project posters are often individuals, small companies, or start-ups. On the flip side, contractors can sign up and advertise their services. Projects cover a wide range of fields: creative, legal, translations, software and web design, proofreading, accounting, etc. You can browse the jobs without registration. But in order to bid on/apply for the projects, you need to register and create a profile. Unless you have a rare expertise or skill, it takes some time before you can make decent money on Upwork. You need to build a good reputation project by project. Once your reputation is established, you can demand more money. It is pure supply and demand. Upwork can be great for people wanting to break into a new field or who want to build a portfolio of projects. It is also a good resume filler for people who are unemployed and want to avoid long gaps in their work history.

Workmarket is also an online marketplace, but the projects posted are usually by larger employers. You can’t just browse jobs on the site —  you have to register before you can proceed. Since the jobs are by larger employers who have an urgent short-term need, the pay is usually good. Both Upwork and Workmarket only provide contract work, not employment.

If you want to move ahead with getting an online job but don’t know how to proceed, the Career Center can help. Give us a call at 225-231-3733 and we will help you discover options and tackle applications.

Written by Anne Nowak

The Seven Deadly Sins of Job Searching, Part 3

This is the third post in a series of posts about the most common and damaging mistakes jobseekers make. Read the full series here.

3rd deadly sin: Resume Blunders

Regardless of what job you are looking for, you now need a resume. No big deal you think, there are plenty of templates available on the internet and if those don’t work out I’ll hire a resume writer. Let’s see what could go wrong:

1st blunderone resume fits all. No, it usually doesn’t. Ideally you want to adjust your resume to each job you are applying for. Most times, it just needs little tweaks and not major rewrites.  If you are applying through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), each resume needs to contain as many of the keywords in the job description as possible to make it through the ATS. Those keywords will differ from job to job.

2nd blunder – an unfocused resume. You have done a lot of good work in your life and you want every potential employer to see all you can do. That’s understandable, but you don’t want to drown the reader in irrelevant information. Be strategic about what you include in your resume. You want to stress those parts of your experience that are most relevant to the job you are applying for and minimize the experience that is not relevant. You also don’t want to go back too far in time. Normally going back about 15 years is customary. Resume space is at a premium; use it wisely. The reader will only spend a few seconds skimming it. Those few seconds need to be enough to convey that you have what they are looking for.

3rd blunder – no accomplishments. Everybody has accomplishments! Many job searchers don’t recognize their accomplishments and see it as “well, that’s just part of my job”. Don’t sell yourself short! Talk to colleagues and friends (or resume writers and career coaches) and let them help you identify what you do well. Then include those accomplishments in your resume.

4th blunder – not proofreading your resume. You have created a top notch resume, focused and filled with relevant accomplishments and keywords. You have read it a thousand times, so it must be okay, right? Too often it’s not. After working on a document for a while, you are not able to recognize the little typos and mistakes. Give your resume to a friend to proofread!!! Grammatical mistakes and typos will usually get you screened out right away. Recruiters will interpret it as carelessness.

5th blunder – not vetting a professional resume writer. Resume writing is hard, so you decide to hire a professional resume writer. There are a lot of excellent resume writers out there. There are even more poor ones! We have seen our share of poorly written resumes that job seekers have paid good money for! Anybody can call themselves a resume writer, so do your research. As with most things, word of mouth is best. Ask friends if they have been successful with a resume written by a specific resume writer. Also, check the resume-writer’s credentials. There are a number of certifications that resume writers can attain. Some of the best are:

  • MRW – Master Resume Writer: only very experienced resume writers get this credential.
  • ACRW – Academy Certified Resume Writer: this credential is given after a comprehensive certification class, exam and document submission for review.
  • CPRW – Certified Professional Resume Writer: resume writers have to pass a test and submit a resume for review.

Resume writing includes substantial communication between the writer and the job seeker. If your resume writer does not ask you many questions, or only asks you to complete a standard written form and then doesn’t talk to you again, beware.

You can learn more details about resumes in our previous blog posts on the topic. If you need assistance in creating a resume, call the Career Center at 225-231-3733, and we can help (we actually have two Certified Professional Resume Writers on staff). More information on resumes and a number of templates can be found here.

Stay tuned for the next deadly sin of job search.

Written by Anne Nowak

The Seven Deadly Sins of Job Searching, Part 2

This is the second post in a series of posts about the most common and damaging mistakes jobseekers make. Read the entire series here.

2nd deadly sin: An unfocused search: “I just want a job, any job”

You’ve been job searching unsuccessfully for a while and are getting desperate. When talking to your contacts, you tell them you just need a job, any job, because any income is better than no income. Great, your friend Joe tells you about a lead he has for you. His friend Jane owns a janitorial company and they need an evening supervisor. Joe tells Jane about you and facilitates a meeting. Perfect! But wait –  you don’t want to work in janitorial services, that is not your field, and you don’t want to work nights. You have no interest in this job, which is what you tell Joe. What just happened? Joe lost face with Jane and you burned a bridge with Joe. Both are unlikely to help you in your search again. After all, you told Joe “any job” would be fine.

Most people are happy to help. But you want to make it easy for them to help you effectively. When you talk to people about looking for a new job, let them know what kind of position you are looking for and what you can contribute to your future employer. It could sound something like this: “I’m an experienced HR Generalist with special expertise in employee relations and recruiting. I help companies avoid legal proceedings by proactively addressing possible legal compliance issues. I also enjoy recruiting and sourcing the best possible candidates for my company. Ideally I would like to work in an industrial setting here in the area, like a chemical plant or industrial construction company. I have experience recruiting skilled craft professionals and could make an immediate contribution”. Now Joe would know not to ask Jane for a job for you. Instead he would concentrate on his contacts in the chemical and industrial construction industries, as well as in Human Resources, and facilitate meetings with them.

Therefore, before you start your job search, you need to be clear about:

  • Your skills, strengths, and values
  • What kind of position you are looking for
  • How you will help a future employer and what you will contribute
  • What kind of work environment you would enjoy most

Now that you are clear about all of the above, you can start a targeted job search, identify the sources that are most likely to yield the best leads, and strategically contact your network.

If you need help assessing your skills and values, or devising an efficient job search or networking strategy, call the Career Center at 225-231-3733, and we can help. More information on networking and informational interviewing can be found at The Muse.

Stay tuned for the next deadly sin of job search.

Written by Anne Nowak

The Seven Deadly Sins of Job Searching, Part 1

This is the first post in a series of posts about the most common and damaging mistakes jobseekers make. Read the full series here.

1st deadly sin: Your job search strategy consists of only searching online and newspaper ads

You find yourself out of a job and turn to what has worked for you in the past. After all, the last time you looked for a job, you grabbed the Sunday paper, found an ad in your field, sent a resume, went on the interview, and got the job. The problem is, that strategy stopped being efficient years ago. While you still find job ads in the Sunday newspaper, they have mostly migrated online. The online version of your local paper will still have job ads. Add to that a large number of online job boards, such as Indeed, Ziprecruiter, and Craigslist, plus local and niche job boards. That should give you plenty of jobs to choose from…..so you think.

While you will find plenty of positions advertised on the internet, what’s your actual chance of landing a job this way? Many sources say: around 5%.

Here are some of the reasons why your chances of success applying for jobs online are so low:

  • Only around 20% of all open positions are advertised online. The other 80% of open positions are filled through referrals and networking! So, if your entire job search consists of applying online, you are competing for only 20% of available jobs.
  • For non-technical positions it is not at all unusual for 200 or 300 people to apply. That’s a lot of competition.
  • Your application is received by an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), the software the company uses to manage their recruiting function. The software often screens your resume and application before a human eye will see it. It uses keyword matches. If your resume does not contain the right keywords, you’re sorted out and your application will never be seen by a human.
  • If a human recruiter screens your resume, they will look at it for only a few seconds due to the large number of applicants. They will not read your documents word for word!
  • Due to the keyword-matching mechanism, the only applicants who will make it through are those who have the exact experience and skills described in the ad. If you are a career changer or want to change industries, you are very unlikely to make it through.

It is still possible to find a job through online ads. Just use it as one of several approaches to job search, not your only one! Devote much more time to networking and informational interviewing in order to open up the 80% of open positions that constitute the hidden job market and are never advertised.

If you need help devising an efficient job search or networking strategy, call the Career Center at 225-231-3733; we can help. More information on networking and informational interviewing can be found here.

Stay tuned for the next deadly sin of job search.

Written by Anne Nowak

 

Job Search Tips for Ex-Offenders, Part 2: The Interview

The Career Center recently presented a pair of job search seminars at a local correctional facility, focusing on the resume and the job interview for ex-offenders. Here are some of the greatest takeaways from those seminars. Read the first post in this series here.

Should I talk about having a criminal record in the interview?

  • It is crucial that you talk about your criminal record in the interview, even if they don’t bring it up. Why? Because they will run a background check and discover your criminal record, and if you haven’t prepared them for that, it will come as a nasty shock. Much better for you to talk about it in the interview, where you can explain the circumstances and reassure them that you’ve changed.
  • One hiring manager we spoke with explained, “If they tell me about the conviction in the interview, I can work with that. I can ask follow-up questions to figure out the details of their situation. I can give them the benefit of the doubt. But if they never tell me, and I find out from the background check, I feel like they were dishonest with me. I don’t appreciate that.”

Dos and don’ts of discussing your incarceration

  • DO: Bring up the incarceration early in the interview, maybe as part of your answer to the very first question, “Tell me about yourself.” Take responsibility for your mistakes. Tell a redemption story about your path to rehabilitation. Focus on the valuable skills and experience you gained while incarcerated. Emphasize your commitment to becoming a contributing member of society again.
  • DON’T: Spend too much time talking about the details of why you went to jail. Blame other people for your situation. Appear hostile or negative. Seem unrepentant for your crimes. Beg or seem desperate for any job. Neglect to convince them of your skills and qualifications for this job.

winning examples of interview answers

  • Tell me about yourself. As you can see from my resume, I’ve got several years of industrial experience. I spent a year as a warehouse technician, which involved operating a forklift and pallet jack, and another six months as a laborer on several different construction projects. After that, my career got derailed a little bit. I made a series of stupid mistakes and wound up in jail. While I was in jail, I realized what a mess I had made out of my life, and I felt ashamed. I decided to turn my life around. I wanted to make sure that I would never go to jail again, so I decided to learn new skills that would help me in the real world. I signed up for vocational training classes to learn new skills. I also worked as a mechanic at the prison for 3 years, which gave me a lot of experience working with my hands and with tools. I’m not afraid to work hard and get my hands dirty, and I think that all of these skills would be useful to your company.
  • Tell me about your criminal record. I was incarcerated for possession of narcotics. I was addicted to heroin, and was too stubborn and stupid to get help for my addiction. I feel like the conviction was justified. I didn’t think this at the time, but now I almost see it as a blessing in disguise. Because I hit rock bottom in jail. The first time my daughter saw me behind bars, I finally realized what I was doing to her. So I made a promise to myself that from then on, I was going to be someone she could be proud of. I enrolled in the prison’s drug rehab program and got clean. I started attending classes and vocational training, so I could be a valuable employee once I got out. I turned around my life and got paroled. Now that I’ve been released, I’m staying on the straight and narrow path. I’ve been drug-free for two years, I’m a deacon at my church, and my daughter is proud of me. If you hire me, I will put my skills and training, as well as my ambition to be a successful employee, to good use for your company.
  • Why should we hire a convicted felon? I can understand why you’d be hesitant to hire someone with my background. I know you’re probably worried that I’ll disappoint. But I’m not going to go back to my old, bad ways. I was young, foolish, and made a terrible mistake. But I decided to turn my life and attitude around. I took advantage of every educational, vocational training, and work opportunity available to me in prison. I now have clear goals, which including being a model employee for a successful company like this one. I have character references from my parole officer and pastor, both of whom would tell you that I am a changed man. If you have any doubts about me still, please hire me on a probationary status until I can prove to you that I am the best man for the job. Frankly, I plan to become your best employee within my first three months.

helpful resources

  • 70millionjobs.com, a job search website devoted entirely to companies willing to hire people with criminal records.
  • Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Louisiana, which has an ex-offender re-entry program offering free training and employment services.
  • The Capital Area Re-Entry Coalition
  • Any book by author Ronald Krannich, including The Ex-Offender’s Re-Entry Assistance Directory, The Ex-Offender’s Quick Job Hunting Guide, Best Resumes and Letters for Ex-Offenders, and The Ex-Offender’s Job Interview Guide. All of these books may be checked out from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library.
  • The Career Center (inside the Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Boulevard) can offer personalized assistance with job search strategies, online applications, resumes, and interviews.

Written by Lynnette Lee

Job Search Tips for Ex-Offenders, Part 1: The Resume and Application

The Career Center recently presented a pair of job search seminars at a local correctional facility, focusing on the resume and the job interview for ex-offenders. Here are some of the greatest takeaways from those seminars.

Should I include my criminal record on my resume?

  • You do not have to mention your incarceration at all on your resume. But be prepared to discuss it in the interview. The difference is, the interview will give you a chance to explain your record and ease the hiring manager’s worries. The resume will not.
  • If you don’t mention your incarceration on your resume, there will be a gap in your work history. You may need a functional resume to cover that gap.
  • If you gained valuable skills, education, or work experience in prison, you probably should put it on your resume. You may even be able to disguise it, so that it’s not obvious that you were incarcerated.
  • Whether or not you include your incarceration, make sure that your resume highlights the skills you have  which are most relevant to the jobs you’re applying for.

how can I disguise my incarceration on my resume?

  • Use the name of the state or parish, not the name of the prison, when listing work experience.
    Example: Landscaper, State of Louisiana, 2007 – present
  • Use the name of the contract company you worked for while incarcerated.
    Example: Cook, ACI Food Services, 2012 – present
  • Make it look like you work directly for the prison.
    Example: Program Clerk, Angola Prison, 2013 – 2017
  • For educational programs, use the name of the organization that provided your training.
    Example: GED, Adult Literacy Advocates, 2016

should I include my criminal record on the application?

  • Only mention your incarceration if they specifically ask about it. Since the passing of “Ban the Box” laws, a lot of applications no longer ask if you have a criminal record. If they don’t ask, don’t tell. The best time for you to discuss your criminal record is in the interview.
  • If they do ask about your criminal record, you must answer honestly. But don’t just say, “Yes.” Take the opportunity to explain your record. Don’t appear hostile, negative, or unrepentant. Don’t blame other people. Instead, take responsibility for your mistakes, and emphasize your path to rehabilitation.

helpful resources

  • 70millionjobs.com, a job search website devoted entirely to companies willing to hire people with criminal records.
  • Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Louisiana, which has an ex-offender re-entry program offering free training and employment services
  • The Capital Area Re-Entry Coalition
  • Any book by author Ronald Krannich, including The Ex-Offender’s Re-Entry Assistance Directory, The Ex-Offender’s Quick Job Hunting Guide, Best Resumes and Letters for Ex-Offenders, and The Ex-Offender’s Job Interview Guide. All of these books may be checked out from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library.
  • The Career Center (inside the Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Boulevard) can offer personalized assistance with job search strategies, online applications, resumes, and interviews.

Written by Lynnette Lee

Social Media for the Job Search

If you missed our August seminar on “Social Media for the Job Search,” here are the key takeaways.

Over 90% of recruiters are using social media these days. They can use them passively to check you out. Or they use them actively to search for candidates. Most likely they will do both. The big three for job search purposes are LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

Social media can benefit job searchers in four main ways

  1. Finding job openings that are posted
  2. Networking
  3. Building your personal brand
  4. Getting to know a potential employer

Job postings

This is pretty straight forward. Facebook and LinkedIn both feature job boards, where companies can post open positions. Users have the option to apply directly on Facebook and LinkedIn. While applying with your LinkedIn profile is perfectly fine as long as your profile is well written and complete, applying with your Facebook profile is probably not your best bet. Most people use Facebook primarily for private interactions, so there is not enough work specific information on there. If you see a job posted on Facebook, go directly to the employer website to apply rather than apply through Facebook directly.

Many companies also announce open positions in their updates and tweets. Therefore follow the organizations that you are interested in to immediately become aware of newly announced positions. On Twitter, some companies even have separate twitter handles for their recruiting division.

Networking

80% of open positions are never advertised and are found through networking. Social media can be a great tool in your networking efforts. LinkedIn was specifically created to facilitate professional networking. Use it to find people you know at your target companies, to find people who can connect you to your target companies, to reconnect with old college friends and colleagues, to discuss professional issues with colleagues, etc.

Use your network of friends on Facebook and Twitter and let them know that you are looking for a new opportunity. Craft a targeted message letting your friends know exactly what you are looking for, what your expertise is, and how your expertise and experience can benefit a future employer.

Building your personal brand

Social media is tailor-made for developing your personal brand. Before you start posting, determine exactly what your professional expertise is, your target audience, and how you want to position yourself. Identify influencers and organizations you want to follow and engage with. In order to make the most of social media, you have to be very active, post often, comment on others’ feeds or in groups you belong to, and engage your audience.

Getting information about potential employers

By following your target organizations on social media you will gain a lot more insight into those organizations than by just looking at their websites. Social media are often updated in real time and much more frequently than websites. This allows you to get a much better grasp of company culture. The better you know a potential employer the better you know if it might be a good fit for you. As an added bonus you will be the first to learn of new opportunities, since these days many companies announce open positions on social media first, before updating job boards.

Caution: Social media can harm your job search efforts as much as they can help

While you are job searching, be especially vigilant about what you post on social media! Compromising information has a way of “getting out there.” So don’t post anything you don’t want a potential employer to see.

Social Media Rules of Thumb

  1. Building a good personal brand on several social media platforms takes a lot of time. If you don’t want to or can’t devote a good bit of time to it, concentrate on one platform and use that one well. For most people in corporate America, LinkedIn will be the platform of choice. If you have Facebook and Twitter accounts that you don’t want to use for your job search, set your privacy settings on the highest level possible!
  2. Watch what you post! Abstain from posting photos that are sexually explicit or involve alcohol and drugs! You might also want to hold off on pictures showing you skydiving, bungee jumping or being involved in other activities that potential employers might consider dangerous. Do not post about divisive issues such as politics or religion (unless you are looking for work as a political consultant or pastor, of course). All of these can get you screened out!

If you need help creating your LinkedIn profile or crafting your personal branding message, contact the Career Center at (225) 231-3733.

Written by Anne Nowak.

How to Succeed at a Job Fair

Job fairs are a valuable part of any job seeker’s toolkit. With dozens of employers in one location, job fairs can be an efficient way to make lots of contacts quickly. Yet, if you’re not careful, you could accidentally make a bad impression on dozens of hiring managers at once. Avoid missteps with our Job Fair Success guide.

How to Prepare for a Job Fair

Research the job fair. Find out what companies will be there and what types of positions they’ll be offering. Decide which companies and positions you’re interested in, which shouldn’t be every single one — lack of focus is unattractive to employers. If possible, go ahead and fill out the online applications for any positions you want.

Create and polish your resume. Make certain that your best, most relevant skills and experience are highly emphasized. Employ strategies to cover any problematic details, such as a gap in your work history. Ensure that your resume is easy to read, consistently formatted, and free of grammatical errors. (If you need help putting together a resume, come visit the Career Center!) Finally, print out many, many copies of your resume.

Prepare your outfit. You should dress for a job fair the exact same way you would dress for a job interview.

Practice your 30-second pitch. You will need to introduce yourself to employers at the job fair, briefly detailing what kind of work you’re looking for and what qualifications you possess. For example, “Hello! My name is John Doe, and I’m interested in becoming a delivery driver with your company. I have three years of professional driving experience as a deliveryman for FedEx, and I think I’d make a great addition to your team.”

Get ready for on-the-spot interviews. Most employers won’t have time for in-depth interviews the day of the job fair, but some will. You should be prepared to answer common interview questions, such as, “Tell us about yourself”, “Why do you want to work for us?”, and “Why should we hire you?”

The Day of the Job Fair

Make sure that your outfit and appearance are neat, and that you have plenty of copies of your resume. Plan to get there near the beginning of the job fair — don’t wait until the end. Many employers leave long before the job fair is over. Once you arrive, get a map of the layout of the venue and where employers are located (if one is available) and study it to plan the order in which you’ll approach your target companies.

Make a good first impression on employers. When you go up to a booth, you will introduce yourself to the hiring manager using your 30-second pitch and give him or her your resume. Make sure you’re giving off appropriate body language. Be confident and friendly. Ask the hiring manager what the next steps in the process are, and follow them. Don’t forget to get the hiring manager’s business card before you leave. If they have no card, write yourself a note with the recruiter’s name and company.

They might not actually be hiring right now. Some employers at job fairs don’t have current openings. Instead, they’re using the job fair to expand their pool of applicants, network, and publicize their companies. However, you should still take them seriously, and make a good impression on them because they may have openings in the near future. Even employers that do have current openings will rarely hire someone on the spot during a job fair without a background check and in-depth interview. Don’t expect to be offered a job on the day of the fair — recognize that the fair is often just the first step of the process.

After the Job Fair

Follow up with the employers you met. If you haven’t already done so, fill out the online application for any company from the fair that you’re interested in. Then, email the hiring managers to touch base. Make sure you avoid sounding pushy, demanding, or desperate. Simply say something like, “I enjoyed meeting with you at the job fair yesterday. Everything you said about your company makes it seem like it would be a great fit for me. I just finished your online application, and I look forward to hearing from you.” Attach your resume to the email (rather than making them dig through the stack of resumes from the job fair to find you). You should follow up even with the companies that don’t have openings right now. Just let them know how interested you are in the company and how you hope they’ll keep you in mind for future openings.

The Most Common Job Fair Mistakes

  • Wearing casual clothes (jeans, flip-flops, t-shirts, etc.)
  • Looking ill-groomed (unshaven, wild hair, wrinkled clothes)
  • Having visible tattoos and piercings
  • Bringing children to the job fair
  • Having no resume or not enough copies of your resume
  • Going to every single booth and asking, “What are you hiring for?”
  • Saying nothing at all to the hiring manager other than, “Here’s my resume.”
  • Inappropriate body language when meeting employers (slouching, fidgeting, lack of eye contact, lack of smile, bad handshake, etc.)
  • Being unable to answer hiring managers’ questions about qualifications and skills
  • Not following up after the job fair

Written by Lynnette Lee.