Cultivating Networks at Career Fairs — #1 Preparation

Rasmussen poster Career FairOptimizing your Career Fair Experience #1


On February 18 from 10am to 2pm, I will be at Wausau’s newest learning environment, Rasmussen College at their Career and Networking Fair as their Career Expert. Among other things, I will be providing feedback on resumes and job search to job seekers.

As we approach the career fair spring season, here is the first post in a series on how career fairs can be used to cultivate job seeker networks and position you for success in your job search.

Today’s post is on preparation.

Over the years, I have had clients call both in advance and on the day of a career fair, scrambling to either get a resume written or get copies in their hands. Scrambling does not position you for success. Let’s try a more focused approach:

Look at your existing resume

First, thing you want to do, is look at your existing resume. This is a day when many of the companies at the career fairs may be suggesting that you apply online with them.

Does that mean that you should go empty-handed to a career fair? No! Job seekers who come to the career fair prepared, looking the part, with a portfolio or briefcase filled with professional-looking resumes will rise to the cream of the crop. You need a Keyword-filled, accomplishment-based resume — not a list of your jobs and duties.

Who will be at the career fair?

Most career fairs will publish the list of companies in advance marketing of the event. Even if they don’t, realize that there will be a variety of companies at the event. Most likely, there will be staffing recruiting firms as well as individual companies represented at the career fair.

Don’t discount the staffing agencies.

Become familiar with the staffing firms in your area who may be the front door to the job you seek. Increasingly, companies are outsourcing their human resource recruiting to staffing firms like Kelly Services, Manpower, and in the Wausau area, firms like Westphal Staffing and Agency Staffing. Research these firms and find out if they specialize and if so, is it in an area that you would like to work in.

Don’t scatter — target!

Rather than a scattered effect, determine what your target is and research the companies that you would like to work for using company websites, LinkedIn, and Google itself. Come armed with corporate knowledge and how you would fit in with their product, service, or strategy.

Think about the company in terms of how you could solve a problem they may have or increase their profitability. What do you bring to the table?

Next post in this series will discuss your 5-second elevator speech.

Are you thinking about going to a career fair? Do you feel preparation plays a part?

Talk to me! —> I talk back! 🙂



  1. Dawn Bugni on February 10, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Julie –

    Preparation. Preparation. Preparation. You can’t say it enough.

    A job fair is also a great place for job seekers to practice their interview techniques, responses and, as your next post will tell us, their elevator speech. A job seeker should go as prepared for a job fair as they would for an interview for their dream job. You never know when opportunity will appear.

    Great reminder.

  2. Melissa on February 10, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Great post!

    I especially like what you had to say about employment agencies. They can be a good way to get your foot in the door at a company that may be otherwise hard to access because the person at the agency has already done the networking with key contacts.
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..No Longer a Separation of Personal and Professional Lives? =-.

  3. Julie on February 10, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Staffing agencies have become the HR department for many companies in an effort to reduce costs and streamline the hiring process. One of the successful strategies may be to be hired by a staffing agency initially and because of proving yourself as a good employee, you become a successful direct hire.

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Julie Walraven, Design Resumes

Julie Walraven

Professional Resume Writer

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