The Job Hunter: How to Make the Most of a Job Fair

Rabbi Mordechai Kruger. The Parnassah Expo, which will include a job fair aimed at helping members of our community find employment, will be held next week.

This event has great potential. Whether that potential will lead you to a great job or a great disappointment depends on how well you prepare to take advantage of the opportunity.

The first part of that preparation is to have a serious conversation with yourself to identify the skills and experiences that you have which are valuable to employers. Be prepared to give brief examples which show these skills in action. Whether you are taking your first trial steps out of the Beis Medrash, or have years in the workplace, think about yourself: Are you disciplined? Do you know how to set goals and achieve them? Organized? A leader? Do you have specific work skills? Training? Can you tell about things you’ve accomplished that prove these points? Does your resume make these same points?

Next, get the list of companies that will be attending the fair. Even better, get the list of the positions they are looking to fill. Focus on those few positions that really fit you. Be as specific as you can, and be prepared to explain why you are the best possible person for the job you have in mind. Learn about the company before you get to their booth. Ask anyone you can if they know anyone who works at that company, and call them with specific questions about the company and the positions they are looking to fill. Read anything you can find about the company. If you can’t get any information ahead of time, take a short walk around the Expo and pick up their brochures, and take a few minutes to read them. Listen in on the conversations at the booth (without being obvious, of course).

When you get your chance to speak to the recruiter, stay focused on one point: you have a few seconds to make a great impression that will make him want to invite you in for an interview. You will have recently had a haircut, be wearing your neatest, cleanest suit, and your hat will be freshly brushed. You will introduce yourself with a smile and a firm handshake, mention the job that interests you, and give a 2-3 sentence summary of the reasons you are a great candidate for the job. You will ask some well-prepared questions about the company if you get a chance, and conclude by handing over your resume, which will emphasize the same points you just mentioned.  Thank the recruiter for his time, and ask how you can contact him to arrange an interview.  Try not to settle for “We’ll call you.” Say a final “Thank you” and you’re done.

A job fair is not an amusement park where you want to try all the rides. You should be planning to meet only those employers that you are seriously interested in, and who are seriously looking for someone like you. Focus on making that great impression that will get you invited to an interview, and you have a real chance of making the Expo the first step toward a job.

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  1. Great article. But most people don’t wear a hat in a professional business setting. If it’s all frum jews – maybe, but if there are non jewish companies there as well isn’t is a lot more professional not to wear a hat?

  2. To comment one: I could not agree more. A well written and informative piece.

    But as for the hat, well, what can I say – even when I hit the roller coaster at Keansburg I wear my hat so why not to the Expo?

  3. FYI : The Parnassah Expo staff made it VERY clear they will not release any Job listings or business’s looking to hire in advance.

    So much luck with your tips….

  4. Most job fairs let atendees before hand which companies will be interviewing and what postions are available before hand. Hence, I will not be attending.

  5. Is this for the whole community of Lakewood or just the Jewish community?

    It says in the article, “a job fair aimed at helping members of our community find employment, will be held next week.”

    I am part of the community so I assume as a Catholic, I can benefit?

  6. I agree on the hat issue- I was most concerned that it not be a crushed dusty one. But in most business settings, a nice clean yamulke does better.
    You definitely don’t need to be clean shaven, but you should be neat in every way.
    As far as releasing the list is concerned, if they don’t, then I recommend doing a walking tour when you first get there, gather information, and then do a second walk through. And don’t limit yourself to the companies that are officially hiring. Gather information on the companies that seem like the places you would love to work. I have another article on this coming soon, but anyone can e mail me and I’ll forward it.

  7. #11 Its for the the Jewish community at large in the US. But, feel free to attend. If you are qualified for a position I am sure you wont get turned down.

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