The Career Fair Encore
The career fair is over-but that doesn't mean your work is finished. The days and weeks in the wake of a career fair are the most opportune time to improve your chances of being called back for an interview. A great performance without follow-up on your part sends a poor signal to the employer and is likely to result in a missed opportunity. Similarly, a solid performance with a prompt, focused follow-up could very well land you an interview. Here's what you can do to enhance your prospects.
If you did your job right, you will have come away from the career fair with lots of contact names and business cards of people who work at the employers you're targeting. Use these wisely. Recruiters vary on whether they like to be contacted after a career fair, and the form they want that contact to take. Some prefer e-mails while others are open to phone calls. "If somebody calls," says a recruiter for a tech company, "I will pull that resumé out and make sure it gets to the proper person." Another recruiter says that out of 100 people at a recent career fair, only two called her within a week. "To me, then, I was just a drop-off for resumés," she says.
Some recruiters, however, would rather not be called. "Unfortunately, I don't have the time to call you back. I'd rather spend my time with the managers to get them to call you back," says one. Says another, "Phone calls are kind of a pain in the neck. Unless the recruiter tells you to give them a call, I suggest asking if you can call them, or asking if you can write."
Writing a thank-you note is great way to get your name in front of the recruiter again. It also provides an opportunity to send another copy of your resumé, in case it got lost in the shuffle. Although it probably won't get you a job, a thank-you note will make you stand out; most recruiters will be genuinely pleased you took the trouble.
Hold Repeat Performances
Recruiters advise job seekers to pursue as many interactions as they can get to find out about the employer. Watch to see if an employer is going to attend other career fairs in your area, and if you can, attend. Take an insider out to lunch or coffee-perhaps a friend or an alum, or someone whose name was referred to you. The more connections you make within the company, the less of a stranger you'll be, making it easier to snag an interview. And if you are able to get particularly chummy with somebody, you might ask that person if he or she would give your resumé to the right hiring manager. This will immediately give you an added measure of credibility.