Preparing Your Résumé for a Job Fair
It’s always best to customize your résumé and explain exactly how your experience has prepared you for the specific qualifications listed in a job posting. That’s a key point I teach in my best-selling book, Signs of a Great Résumé. But what should you do when you’re attending a job fair where you’ll meet with lots of different employers? In a job fair setting, employers will know it’s nearly impossible for you to customize a cover letter and résumé for every single company in attendance. To quantify what makes you a great candidate for several prospective employers, you should showcase examples of your accomplishments and skills related to the most common requirements in your field.
Before you write your job fair résumé, search for online job postings roles related to the career you’re pursuing. Take a look at the qualifications that different companies require. You’ll likely find some common trends and frequently used terms which appear in job postings at several different companies. With this bit of research, you’ll be able to write a résumé that speaks for itself and a cover letter which addresses your qualifications to fulfill the most common needs of your desired career field.
Next, before going to the job fair, try to determine which companies will be represented. Take a look at the jobs these companies already have posted on their web sites. If there’s a specific opening for which you’d like to apply, customize a separate résumé and cover letter for that posting and bring it with you along with your job fair résumé. If there’s not one particular opening that appeals to you, consider how that company generally evaluates prospective candidates. What key words do they use in their job postings? What types of skills and leadership attributes do they value? What can you learn about their corporate culture and business priorities from their web site? Then customize a résumé for that company with those ideas in mind.
Consider making a list of the companies you know you want to approach at the job fair and write a customized cover letter for those prospective employers. Your cover letter should explain why you want to work for that specific company and can also indicate the general field for which you’re interested in applying. When you submit a customized cover letter with your job fair résumé, you’ll stand out from your competition. Remember, most other applicants, if they submit a cover letter at all, will be handing over form letters written “To Whom it May Concern,” and not to a specific employer.
In your job fair résumé and cover letters, be sure you use specific examples to quantify what makes you a great candidate in your field. Whether you’re attending a job fair or you’re applying for a single position, your résumé should always be full of !@$%, the Signs of a Great Résumé.
! - Any part of your experience that was "amazing!"
@ - Defining points, places, dates and things in your experience
# - Numbers that quantify and prove your past successes
$ - The dollar value of your contributions
% - Figures that easily show growth and results
When you write a résumé that’s full of !@$%, your résumé will speak for itself and you’ll be on your way to a successful job fair!
Congratulations! You've landed an interview for the job of your dreams! Here are a few important things to consider beforehand.
Bring your résumé:
Even if you submitted a copy of your résumé in advance always bring at least five copies to an interview.
Be on time:
This should go without saying, but try to be at least 10 minutes early. Being late is never acceptable; no excuses.
Dress the part:
Wear a freshly dry-cleaned suit. Ensure you're well groomed from head to toe. Check your fingernails, have someone do a scent check for you and pop in a breath mint (and finish chewing it) before you walk into the building. Check your teeth for signs of your lunch and be sure your buttons and zippers are all closed.
No Cell Phones:
During an interview, it is never acceptable to talk on your cell phone or to hear it ring, vibrate, beep or buzz. Leave it in your car. No one is going to fall off the face of the planet if you're incommunicado for a half hour.
…Or at least make it appear that way. If a friend drives you to the interview, thank them and have them wait outside. Do not bring children or pets to an interview.
Be sure to make a mental note of the name of the person with whom you’re interviewing. Send a professional thank you note within a few days of the interview and you'll certainly improve the impression you leave on your interviewer. If the interviewer offers a business card, take one. Armed with their contact info, you'll be able to email them or send a handwritten note to them directly.
Don't Stress - Be Yourself:
You want your interviewer to be hiring you for who you really are. So relax and be yourself. To alleviate stress before your interview, quietly take deep breaths through your nose, inhaling and exhaling slowly. Sit upright and apply pressure to your toes inside of your shoes, then slowly release. These activities will help you to relax a bit. Lots of folks are nervous before an interview. Just smile and act naturally. Remember, an interview is the first step on a great new journey, so enjoy the ride!
Click on a book cover to download your free preview of Signs of a Great Résumé or Signs of a Great Résumé: VETERANS EDITION. Get a sneak peak at how this book will help you write a résumé that speaks for itself. Discover why the book has earned five-star reviews from readers who've learned why a great résumé should be full of !@#$%. Ready to purchase your copy?
Author Scott Vedder hosted a free college admissions résumé presentation at the Orlando Public Library. Parents and students learned why a college admissions résumé should be full of !@#$%, the Signs of a Great Résumé. Part of Scott’s presentation focused on the different sections students should consider including on a college admissions résumé. Here are a few ideas to get you started. Remember to include lots of !@#$%.
•YourName@_.com and other contact info
•! GPA, ! Class Rank, ! SAT/ACT Scores
•@ what high school(s) you attended, @ what dates and with what anticipated graduation date
•Include AP classes and courses relevant to intended major
Co-Curricular and Extra Curricular Activities
•Clubs, sports, associations and activities in and out of school Jobs, Volunteer Experience and Summer Programs
•Be sure to include !@#$%
Honors and Awards
•Ones that are really !-worthy. (Not name list “vanity” books)
Hobbies / Interests / Travel
•Things that further diversify you as a candidate
For photos and more from Scott's presentations "Like" Scott's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/authorscottvedder.
Here are some common misconceptions about résumés along with the truth about what recruiters really want to see.
MYTH: Résumés describe your work history.
FACT: Résumés advertise how your skills and experience can be of benefit to a prospective employer. The best way to describe your skills is with plenty of !@#$%.
MYTH: All résumés must be written the same way.
FACT: Your résumé should be written in a way that best showcases your skills and ties your experience to the job for which you're applying.
MYTH: Your résumé should describe each job you've held.
FACT: Your résumé should describe what you've accomplished in each job you've held and how it helps a prospective employer.
MYTH: My interview will get me the job so my résumé doesn't matter as much.
FACT: You probably won't get an interview without a great résumé.
MYTH: You can write a good enough résumé on your own.
FACT: Who wants a good résumé when yours could be great?!? A lot of people have "good" résumés. Use the Signs of a Great Résumé to add lots of !@#$% and your résumé will speak for itself!
Thank you for your service! Be sure to check out Signs of a Great Résumé: VETERANS EDITION, a résumé field manual made just for you! Learn why a military veteran's résumé should be full of !@#$%.
Mention You're A Veteran Quickly
Recruiters might only review a résumé for as little as 7 to 30 seconds. Be sure to mention the words "military veteran" in your Summary of Qualifications, right at the top of your résumé. That way your proud military accomplishments will stand out right away!
Don't Just Translate Your MOS
There are a lot of MOS translators online. These are good tools to ensure you don't include a lot of military acronyms and jargon on your résumé. But it's important that you don't just translate your military experience. If all you do is use an MOS translator, you'll end up just writing a job description of your military occupation. You have to give specific examples that explain and quantify your qualifications for a job using !@#$%.
Consider a Functional Résumé
A functional résumé can help showcase the valuable skills, characteristics and accomplishments from your military experience. You'll be able to easily show why you're qualified for a civilian job when you write a functional résumé that's full of !@#$%.
Your résumé should be full of !@#$% - your email address should not. Simplicity is key when it comes to the email address you use on your résumé.
As a recruiter, I advocate simplicity and professionalism over all else. I’ve conducted over 5,000 interviews and I’ve seen lots of wacky email addresses on résumés over the years. The ones that stood out did so for all the wrong reasons. You need to catch my attention with your qualifications and not your email address. If your email address is unprofessional or inappropriate, your résumé is automatically moving to the bottom of the pile or more likely, to my recycling bin.
The best bet for a professional and appropriate email address is yourname@_.com. If you have a common name, try what others have suggested above and add periods or dashes, but nothing too complex between each name. You can try placing your last name first or even using a middle name to differentiate your email.
In my book, Signs of a Great Résumé: How to Write a Résumé that Speaks for Itself, I also advocate creating an email address that you use exclusively for job postings. That way if a recruiter “Googles” your email address, he or she won’t find your social network pages or anything else you don’t want to have considered during your job hunt.
If you want (or need) to add something else in order to register a fairly common name as your email address, I’d advocate another professional and appropriate word over adding numbers. John.Smith.NewYork@_.com reads a lot better to me than John.Smith12345@_.com. Consider Jane.Adams.SalesProfessional@_.com or Debbie.Johnson.Accountant@_.com. Remember, if you’re only using this for job postings, it probably won’t be something you’ll have to type often. Keep it simple and professional and don’t go overboard with numbers, symbols or anything else.
When recruiters see numbers in email addresses, we don’t know what they mean. Are the numbers a reference to your age? Is it your birth year? Who knows?!? We don’t want to know that information when it comes to résumés and job applications. In fact, you don’t want a recruiter to know your age, year of birth or graduation date either. An unscrupulous recruiter might use that information against you. It would not be appropriate (or legal) to use this information as a basis for consideration for a job, so it’s best to just leave it off.
LIKE SCOTT'S PAGE NOW: Scott's Facebook fans recognize the value of Scott's approach and the Signs of a Great Résumé. They're using !@#$% to gain and keep a competitive edge in the job marketplace right now... and your competition could be using !@#$% too! Like Scott's Facebook page, buy the book and use the Signs to get the great new job that you deserve!
Cover letters are not optional!
Be sure to include a cover letter along with your résumé for each job application. A cover letter is your introduction to a prospective employer and draws a direct connection between your experience and the job for which you're appyling. This is a critical step towards success in applying for a new job, so it is not optional.
Personalize your cover letter.
Don't cut corners by sending a form letter "To Whom It May Concern..." If possible, get the name of the recruiter or hiring manager and address the cover letter directly to him or her. If you can't find that information, start with "Dear Hiring Manager," but update it if you're granted an interview.
Customize your cover letter.
Just as every résumé should be customized for each job, the same is true for cover letters. Inside Scott's book, Signs of a Great Résumé you'll find a template which you can use to customize a cover letter for each job.