How to make a great impression after the job fair

March 29, 2018 - 7:00 am

If you've recently been to a job fair, it's clear you needed to be prepared: a clean suit, a well-crafted résumé and a smart elevator pitch.

But the good impression doesn't stop there.  There are several action items that will cement your introductions after the career fair is over. Follow up is as important as that first impression.

Here are four things to do once you get home:

1) Organize the business cards.

Your coat pockets and folder are overflowing with business cards.  Don't let them go to waste.  Organize the cards and handouts.  Create a spreadsheet that contains names, numbers, emails, job titles and employer.  Most importantly, include notes about your conversations so you'll remember details about the jobs and the interviewers.

2) Write thank you notes. 

Reconnect with every recruiter that you met at the job fair. Email is the easiest method, according to Kristin Schrader, the assistant director of InternPLUS and Military Career Programs as University of Maryland, University College. "You can certainly call or write a thank you note by hand, but an email is the fastest option and provides the employer with documentation of your correspondence." It's also an efficient conversation thread with the one person you know at that company: the recruiter.

A 2017 Accountemps survey of more than 300 Human Resource Managers finds 80 percent of them believed that follow up thank you notes were helpful, and yet only 24 percent of job applicants actually send them.  That means you can be the one in four applicants that the recruiter remembers.  Being memorable is the first step to getting your foot in the door.

3)  Include details that help you stand out.

  • Say thank you and include details about the date and location of the job fair. Recruiters go to a lot of job fairs.
  • Highlight the position you're interested in, and include an explanation of why you're a great fit for the job.
  • Include details from your conversation so she'll remember you.

4) Tailor your résumé to fit the position, and attach it to your email.

Refine your résumé so that it is customized to that employer and the particular job.  Double check that your name and contact information is correct.  Re-examine your skills.  Ensure that you've fully but succinctly explained your achievements, your skill set and your strengths.  Massage your language, making sure that you translate your qualifications into civilian terms. Military terms and acronyms aren't clear to some employers. 

It may seem like a lot of work, but you should do this separately for each recruiter and each job.  Send each a personalized thank you note with a customized resume.  Mass emails don't work. 

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