Are you looking to leave the military soon? Want to find a passion and a purpose in your future career? Or are you a recently retired veteran and still on the job hunt? If you answered yes to any of these questions, keep on reading! In this post, I will give you the proven tips to land your dream job at Veteran Career Fair.
What is a Veteran Career Fair?
First, let’s define what a career fair is. A career fair, which can also be referred to as a job fair, is an organized event where a number of employers attend with the goal to meet potential candidates to fill current or upcoming job openings. A veteran career fair is exactly that, but employers are targeting people who served their country and value the skills that veterans have acquired during their service.
Why are career fairs worth going to?
Career fairs are one of the best ways to discover new opportunities, distribute your resume, and most importantly network. I cannot stress this enough, but networking is so crucial when you’re applying for new jobs. An employer would rather schedule an interview with someone they have previously met, than with a stranger on an online application page. In addition, it is important to build relationships with influential people that can later help guide you in the right direction of your career. Now, let’s get into it, I will provide you with the necessary tips for you to get the most out of the veteran career fair, or any type of career fair.
1. Do Your Research
Look at the list of participating employers
The first step to succeeding at a veteran career fair is to do your research. Look at the list of the participating employers on the veteran career fair’s website. Then, form a list of employers that belong in the industries that you are interested in.
Learn about the companies
It is important to dig deeper by learning more about each company’s background. This includes learning about the CEO, mission statement, goals, and even the current challenges they may face. Find out what company values match yours. This research will help you compile a list of questions you may want to ask during the fair.
Find out the current job openings
Next, look at the company’s career page and find out what job openings they are currently offering. It is most likely that those are the positions they are looking to fill at the career fair.
Formulate a list of questions
The next important step is to create a list of questions to ask at a career fair. This is a crucial part of your research because it will show the employer that you took the effort to learn more about them and have a strong interest to work for them. Examples of questions may include:
2. Review Your Resume
After choosing the employers you want to meet at the fair, you have to make sure your resume is one that will catch their attention. Creating an eye-catching resume means showcasing the essential skills needed in a particular industry and providing real-life experiences where you succeeded using those skills. It is also important to make sure your resume is up-to-date, one page, organized, and easy to read.
3. Elevator Pitch
The third step is to practice what you are going to tell the employers, known as an “elevator pitch.” A good pitch is about 30-60 seconds and it is the answer to any “tell me about yourself” question. A pitch contains three to five reasons you can add value to the company. These reasons must be backed up by real-life experiences and examples of how you demonstrated a certain value/skill. As a veteran, you can showcase specific situations where you were presented with a challenge and overcame that challenge by using specific skill to succeed. It is useful to create a list of skills that tailor the job position you wish to apply for and quickly jot down examples where you used those specific skills. Lastly, it important to practice, practice, practice! You need to practice your pitch until it sounds clear, smooth, and natural.
4. Career Fair Attire
What you wear to a career fair is very important. This is where the old saying comes “dress to impress.” In a career fair first impressions matter and it is crucial for you to make a great first impression. How you present yourself speaks about yourself and your professionalism. Therefore it is important to dress in “business casual.”
* NOTE: It is also key to analyze the firm’s company culture and take it into consideration when deciding what is appropriate to wear.
5. Arrive Early
This is crucial, when attending a career fair it is very important you arrive early so you can properly allocate your time to speak to every employer you are interested in. Keep in mind that many will have a line of applicants also trying to network with them.
6. Prioritize Employers
Upon arriving at the event you should get a hold of a map of the fair that indicates exactly where each recruiter’s booth is located. This will come in handy to prioritize your time and meet with every recruiter you have done your research on. Make sure to write a list beforehand so you do not forget to speak with any of them.
I would recommend to approach the employers you are less interested in, first. This will allow you get more comfortable networking, allow you to decrease your nerves, and boost your confidence when it comes to meeting the employers you are most excited about. Keep in mind that those employers may have a long line of applicants, so carefully allocate your time wisely.
Nerve wrecking right? Well, after you read this section it will be less nerve wrecking because you will know exactly how to go about the situation.
Don’t let your nerves get to you. This is a basic “Hello my name is…” and get ready to give them your firm handshake. Show your confidence and get ready to take their breath away with your skills. In order to ease the situation, you can open up the conversation by commenting on something you learned when doing your research, preferably something positive like a company’s recent success.
Pitch them about yourself. By this time you should have practiced your pitch many times. Make sure to tailor your skills and experiences to the ones they are looking for in potential candidates for the jobs they are trying to fill. If you could not find any available positions on their site, make an educated guess about good skills that company might look for.
This is very important and it shows the employer your interest in them. I recommend reviewing the list of questions you made during your research before meeting them, so you do not forget to ask any. Also, go ahead and ask any new questions you came across when speaking with them.
Be courteous, memorable, and have a positive attitude
Remember you are representing yourself and the military organization you belong to. Demonstrate sensitivity to other veterans that are waiting to speak with employers by keeping your interaction and questions brief. Have a genuine conversation with the representative and tell memorable military stories that will make them remember you. Lastly, show them your positivity!
Hand in your resume and ask for contact information
Once your done asking your questions and know you had an amazing interaction with the recruiter you hand in your resume. This is crucial because they can look it over after the event. It should be the clean version of all your skills and experiences you talked to them about. Also, very critical, ask for their business card or contact information so you can follow-up after the career fair.
8. Follow-Up with an Email
Following-up with the recruiters you spoke to immediately after the veteran career fair is crucial to moving your employment prospects forward. That is why it is necessary to ask for the representative’s contact information.
An effective email will:
- Thank representative for taking the time to speak with you
- Communicate your strong interest to work for the company
- Remind recruiter about a certain aspect of your conversation
- State how your skills make you an excellent candidate for the position
- Offer the employer the option ask for references
- Give your contact information, so that they can:
- reach you if they have any questions or
- want to schedule an interview
Thoughtful preparation before a career fair can significantly increase your success to obtain the job your are looking for. Follow the eight tips and let the job offers pour in!