How to impress employers at a career fair

This May 28 – 29, Penexpo will be organising the Penang Career and Postgraduate Expo 2016 at the Sunway Carnival Convention Centre, Penang. The career fair will be featuring more than 45 exhibitors from various industries looking for talents to fill in their vacancies.

Career fairs are an excellent opportunity to connect with employers and leave an impression. The exhibitors at such fairs are usually representatives of the human resource department, which means you’re pitching yourself to the right people that play a major role in your hiring.

But be mindful – you are amongst the hundreds, if not thousands of other applicants waiting to hand in their resume to get that dream job. To get into the shortlist, you’d have to make a lasting first impression, and be memorable to the recruiters. Here are some tips to do that:

Wear a bright colour

Many would wear shades of neutral at job fairs. Many would wear shades of neutral at job fairs.

You may already know that in order to come off as an eligible candidate, you need to keep your attire professional. For some reason, jobseekers tend to associate professional attire to blacks, greys, browns, and other neutral tones. If you want to stand out from this, include a bright coloured piece in your ensemble.

We’re not telling you to go full fluorescent – a simple orange blouse with a black / neutral skirt will reflect much more personality than a safe choice of monochromes (unless you’re in the legal or finance industries – know your industry culture first). Besides, you’ll allow the recruiters to put a face to your resume later on, when they start screening through their load of applicants. Which brings us to the next point…

A photo goes a long way

You may have been told to ditch the photo on your resume. However, for a career fair, the circumstances are a little different.

Put yourself in the recruiters’ shoes. After a long and likely draining two-day exhibition, their next step is to sieve through their collection of resumes – again. Having a photograph of yourself on your resume will help them recall their chat with you much more easily, and will increase the chances of you landing in their shortlist pile.

Attach professional photos only. Selfies, Facebook profile pictures, or any photo that you think may be compromising, is a big no-no.

Keep it concise

Resumes that are concise and to the point, catch attention. Resumes that are concise and to the point, catch attention.

When it comes to resumes, short and sweet should be your motto. It is your profile, not portfolio. Don’t let it get longer than two pages, and only keep info that is relevant. You may have read this advice plenty of times, but it is a wonder how many candidates still hand in a novel instead of a resume.

Another important aspect of a resume is readability. Is there enough spacing in between your lines? Is there too much text? Can the reader spot out key points the moment he/she glances at your resume?

According to research, employers only spend six seconds reviewing a resume, and most of that time is spent looking at the name, current and previous title/company, current and previous position start and end date, and education.

Now that you know this, make sure these points standout or are bolded.

Not quite like this, but you get the idea. Not quite like this, but you get the idea.

Exude confidence

Some say there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. We’re not asking you to come off as someone who knows it all (no one likes that), but rather someone who knows what you want. Do you know what you want?

If you don’t, spend some time thinking about what kind of industry and position you’d like to explore. If you’re a fresh graduate and unsure about what your fit would be, speak with the recruiters and inform them of your forte and areas of interest.

Exude confidence when doing this by maintaining eye contact when they are speaking, listening qualitatively (don’t just smile and nod), and asking questions when necessary.

Don’t forget to first introduce yourself with a handshake and mention your objective of attending the fair. For bonus points, ask the recruiter for his/her name and their experience with their organisation.

Research, prioritise, and conquer

Do your research prior to attending the fair. Do your research prior to attending the fair.

Chances are you are not going to be interested in all of the booths. A little research would go a long way in your efficiency in approaching the organisations that you envision yourself working in.

Find out who’s exhibiting, and then prioritise the employers according to your preference. That way, your applications will be targeted, and you wouldn’t likely get a response from an industry you’re not interested in.

Polish your social media

Vet through the content of your social media accounts. Vet through the content of your social media accounts.

Once a recruiter finds you interesting, his or her next step may be looking you up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms. Make sure that these platforms reflect information consistent with your resume, and hide any compromising posts or photos that may render you a negative image.

Keep positive vibes

People are naturally attracted to happy and positive attitudes. Do not ever complain about your current job or ex-boss to your recruiters, as that is a big red flag indicative of a difficult employee. Focus on what you can do, what you want to learn, and what you can offer an organisation.

Once you’ve got yourself prepared, don’t forget to head down to the Penexpo Penang Career and Postgraduate Expo 2016 this May 28 and 29, from 11am to 7pm at the Sunway Carnival Convention Centre, Penang. Entrance is free for all jobseekers. For more info, head to penexpo.com.my