First impressions can make or break a job opportunity.
So, when planning to attend Thursday’s Black Press Career Fair, taking some extra time to prepare beforehand will go a long way.
There are dozens of employers at the fair, each looking to recruit. To stand out from the crowd, there are a few tips job seekers should keep in mind.
“People always say be yourself,” says Danny Horner, a facilitator for GT Hiring Solutions (WorkBC) in Chilliwack. “I agree to a certain extent. But for an employer if you’re going to have 1,000 people walking through the doors, well, what is it about these people that is going to make these employers say yes?”
He tells his clients to dress business casual for career fairs. For those who aren’t sure what that means, he has this advice:
“Google it, find some images and wear that,” he says. “At the very minimum, you will look like you care about yourself, and that tells them you’ll represent their business.”
While Horner says it is somewhat overused advice, it’s crucial to remember to be clean, tidy and organized.
“This is the first thing they are looking for,” he says. “People are evaluating or judging, and if you don’t pass that first initial test of, ‘I take care of myself’, then they’re not going to be interested.
That goes for all types of career-fair visitors. Horner says fairs are great for students looking for career ideas, for people who want to improve their employment and for those who are entering or re-entering the work force.
Job seekers should be ready with resumes and cover letters in hand, tailored to the industry they are looking to enter. And students should come prepared with a notebook and pen, along with questions to ask recruiters.
“You should have questions in mind and have an idea of the employers you want to go see, so the conversations are good and effective,” Horner says.
And it’s important to remember that employers are looking for more than just skills and qualifications.
“They are looking for the two Ps,” Horner says, “Personality, but also your presentation.”
They are looking at your body language, communication skills and confidence.
“As a job seeker, you’ve got to know what job you’re going after. Know your focus,” he says. “Find the employers that fit your focus.”
From there, he recommends building targeted resumes for those employers. Bring those to the career fair, but also bring general resumes. Career fairs can open job seekers eyes to industries or employers they hadn’t considered, and it’s good to be prepared.
The Black Press Career Fair takes place on Thursday, May 11, at the Langley Events Centre (7888 200 St.), from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., featuring more than 100 employers ready to hire and give career search advice and post-secondary direction. Check out Black Press Career Fair’s Facebook page for more details.