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September 2012

Is a job fair worth your time?

“There wasn't one opening for me!”

I hear it a lot and I'm wondering if any of you feel that way, too. You get dressed up in interview attire, sharpen up your resume, get your briefcase out, have personal business cards made. And what did you get out of it?

The way to make it work is to totally turn your thinking around. It's not a specific JOB you expect to walk away with. It's the EMPLOYERS you want to meet. Where else will you find 20, 30, 50, 70 employers under one roof at one time?

It's an awesome place to network with recruiters, to find out what's going on in companies, to target the right people, and to connect with job seekers and share ideas.

Here are 10 hints to make you memorable:

  1. Wear appropriate business attire.
  2. Do your homework. Develop a target list. You will be remembered for your knowledge of their products and services.
  3. Have your 30-second commercial ready.
  4. Sign up in advance if possible. This lets recruiters know who you are on paper before you get face time.
  5. Greet the employer or recruiter with a firm handshake. Be enthusiastic about their organization.
  6. Be prepared with good questions: “How could my skills be used in your organization?” “I understand you're expanding in the area of logistics. How will this impact the manufacturing side of your business?”
  7. Offer a resume to those employers you're interested in. Exchange business cards.
  8. Have your own personal business card ready (name, address, phone, email).
  9. Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up!
    • Write thank you letters to employers you meet and those you're interested in pursuing further.
    • Call and set up short 20-30 minute appointments with the employer or recruiter.
  10. Check out Alumni resources at UNCG including Career Fairs at

The lines might be long, but talk to every company that fits your experience and ambitions. If you meet with 20 employers and recruiters, you will know 20 people by name in a short time. That is certainly better than trying to get appointments one by one!

Kathleen Martinek, former UNCG Alumni Career Counselor, has more than 15 years of experience in career development and corporate management. She can be reached at







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