How to stand out at a job fair



HR Roundtable panel member Michael Haberman gives advice to job seekers on how to stand out in a crowd of applicants at a job fair:

KIA Motors recently held a job fair in Georgia, as did the Federal Government. Hundreds, if not thousands, showed up to fill out applications. In a situation such as that how do you stand out from all the others? If the hiring company is only accepting applications and not doing onsite interviews you have to concentrate your efforts on your resume and the application. The human resources staff will be reviewing your paperwork and they will be looking, initially, for reasons to screen you OUT. Resumes that are too long, pictures attached to the resume, misspelled words on both the resume and the application, very poor handwriting, and very long time gaps or too many jobs, even for a poor economy, are all things that will screen you out.

Once your paperwork has made it through the initial screening you may get invited for an interview. This is where you will have an opportunity to highlight your skills, experience and education. Remember, however, you are still at a level where recruiters are looking for reasons to screen you OUT instead of IN. Here are a few tips:

  • Appearance counts, be neatly dressed, certainly better dressed than the job may require.
  • Be interested in order to be interesting. Spend sometime looking up information about the company. Everyone can get Internet access somewhere. Find out something about the company and have questions prepared.
  • Get the name of the person you are interviewing with and send them a thank you note right after you have left the interview.

If you have been sufficiently interesting to the recruiter you may get your background and references checked. This leads to a final rule to make yourself stand out. BE TRUTHFUL! False information, embellishments, lies and omissions, despite recent public examples, will not help get you hired. So make sure your resume and application match and that all the information is truthful. Today, that will make you stand out.

4 comments Add your comment

The Truth

April 20th, 2009
7:24 am

Job Fairs are the BIGGEST waste of time. Other than getting some practice presenting yourself if you’ve been out of the interviewing game for awhile, one should not expect anything significant to come out of attending a job fair. Your best bet would be to get a list of the employers that will be in attendance from the job fair website, and check out those companies’ website job postings and submit your resume accordingly, because there only going to tell you to check the site frequently, and that they’ll scan your resume into their system.

The only thing you gain from a job fair is the feeling that you’re being proactive about your current job situation. If you need practice get dressed up and go. If you’re getting interviews don’t waste the time, and gas.

Juan J.

March 24th, 2009
7:41 pm

To piggyback on Mr. Jerome Fannin’s comment: Thanks for echoeing my sentiment! You are so on target! If you can’t seem to find a job (like I haven’t been able to in 6 months now) then, of course you are going to have gaps. It is even hard to find volunteer opportunities because everyone is turning to the same “rescue techniques” job fairs and volunteering to seal gaps. This thing has to end soon because we are all in the same boat – Trying to keep from sinking!!

Rob Herbert

March 16th, 2009
9:44 pm

I am in the process of relocating to the Atlanta area with my wife who will be working in Atlanta. I appreciate these comments as I believe they will assist me in my new job search. The comments also show that the city cares. Thank you…

Jerome Fannin

March 14th, 2009
4:13 pm

Why are people always looking for a reason to not like a person first. That is what brings out all harrassment
on jobs, schools and all other places. If a person cannot find a job, there is going to be gaps in their employment.
Their are some highly learned persons with bad hand writing. I used learned because going to school and
learning is not the same thing.