Job Fair Tips - and a Great New App

Robert Walker is vice president of sales at RecruitMilitary and a veteran of the United States Army. He is available at robert.walker@recruitmilitary.com.

Employers that attend our RecruitMilitary Job Fairs in the next 12 months will almost certainly extend more than 15,000 job offers as a result of their attendance. Will one of the offers be yours?

I base this estimate on our post-event surveys and on the fact that we have introduced a free app that will greatly enhance the job fair experience for job seekers and employers alike. For survey details, see Mary Beth Miller’s article, “The Surveys Say: Our Career Are Breaking Records!” in this magazine. The app, RecruitMilitary CareerFair+, is a full-featured iPhone, iPad, and Android marvel. The app will put the power to prepare for our events literally in the job seeker’s hands. Its main features:

  • Complete employer listing. You will be able to search for employers, based on custom filters. To accelerate your research, we will collect the following information on employers: website URL; overview; and hiring needs, which will correspond to work categories that you will enter when you pre-register for an event.
  • In addition, you will be able to mark potential employers as favorites.
  • Interactive floor plan. Map your booth visits by showing only your favorite employers on the floor plan.
  • Event details, for adding pre-event workshops to your calendar.
  • Announcements. Learn about changes in employer information in real time.
  • Career Fair 101. Directly access tips and advice to help you prepare for the event. Subjects will include personal appearance, your elevator speech, and a general approach for interacting with recruiters.

We will test RecruitMilitary Career Fair+ at four events: May 11 in Dallas, May 12 in Norfolk, May 12 in Omaha, and May 26 in Cincinnati. To access the app, search for RecruitMilitary Career Fair Plus on the App Store or the Google Play Store.

Opportunites Galore

There are opportunities all over the room at RecruitMilitary Career Fairs — careers with employers, opportunities to go into business for yourself with franchisors who value your ability to get the job done, and opportunities to advance your education via online and on-campus learning.

How do you find the options that are best for you? Below are some tips on interviewing with recruiters at a military-to-civilian job fair.

DRESS FOR THE PART

If you are on active duty or you are attending the event on a reserve or National Guard drill day, wearing your uniform is great. In all other cases, you should wear the same civilian attire that you would wear at a one-on-one interview at an employer’s place of business. And that should be a business suit or, at the very least, a business casual outfit, complete with jacket.

STAY ENTHUSIASTIC

If a recruiter asks you to email your resume to his/her company, they are not brushing you off. In fact, being asked for the email is a good sign. Many companies require their recruiters to gather resumes by email: (1) to obtain HR information as required by law; and (2) so they can direct desirable job seekers to different departments.

TRY TO GET TO ALL OF THE BOOTHS

Even those that may not seem as if they have any opportunities for you are worth visiting. An employer’s name or its primary industry does not necessarily indicate what openings the company is trying to fill. For example, a drugstore chain may be recruiting for positions in transportation/distribution or accounting. Even if you are not going to the event to discuss continuing your education, talk with the recruiters at the booths for educational institutions. Today’s institutions deliver learning opportunities in many ways other than traditional, full-time, daytime classes on a campus. A few minutes of conversation may lead to an unexpected continuing-education solution that is right for you.

Another factor to consider: Most of the educational institutions at our events are always on the lookout for people to go to work for them. If you have a high level of knowledge on almost any subject and you think you might have a talent for teaching and/or designing courses, talk with the recruiters. If they have a physical campus, they may need maintenance talent.

I have similar advice for job seekers who have not been thinking of going into business for themselves. Franchise opportunities are available in a tremendous variety of fields. Arranging for financing may be easier than you think, with surprising discounts available to veterans. Stop by the franchisors’ booths—one of them may very well have a plan that matches your interests and your situation.

MEMORIZE YOUR STORY

Before you go to employers’ booths, create some talking points. Put together a 30-to-60-second “story” about yourself that includes some of your successes and areas of interest. Be ready to discuss how your military experience relates to the civilian workplace. You should also prepare yourself for a long, detailed interview—employers have hired people on the spot at our events.

By Robert Walker on Thursday April 21, 2016

This article appeared in the May-June 2016 issue of Search & Employ Magazine