MOAA's Tips for Career Fair Success

Preparing for the Career Fair

  • Begin by researching companies that are scheduled to attend the career fair in order to understand the basic elements of their business plan and to develop thoughtful questions for the interviewers.
  • Review posted career opportunities; apply for positions that are a potential match.
  • Review the best sources of company specific information: company web sites; Securities and Exchange Commission quarterly Form 10-Q filings (for public companies); The Wall Street Journal; Barrons; www.cnbc.com; Aviation Week and Space Technology (for the defense and homeland security sectors); and AFCEA International at www.afcea.org and search for Source Book (for information technology and related organizations).
  • Don't ignore less well-known and privately held companies; your personal network will be the most important tool to access critical information at smaller and private companies.
  • Tailor your resume for key words and phraseology specific to the company and the sector. Use multiple editors to eliminate grammatical errors on your resume.     
  • Develop your list of questions to ask the recruiter at the career fair:
    • What types of positions are you looking to fill? 
    • Can you describe your ideal candidate? 
    • What are the toughest positions for you to fill? 
    • How would you describe the corporate culture?
    • What do you like best about working here?
    • What are the hiring manager's expectations for the first six months?
    • What competitors most concern you? 

Meeting the Recruiters 

  • Present your resume without a cover letter. 
  • Consider printing your resume double-sided to reduce the recruiter's paper load.    
  • Use your 30 second commercial to start the conversation.  Follow the recruiter's lead in formality. Strive for a balanced conversation. Review:
    • Your most recent assignment and range of responsibilities.
    • Highlight your proudest accomplishments that could be relevant to the position, including: areas where you can make money, save money, develop new business and contribute to an organizational turn-around, re-alignment or start-up. 
    • Emphasize current or former security clearances, language skills, recent educational achievements and professional development activities, significant volunteer service (if relevant) and specific actions you have taken to prepare for transition.
    • Express why this company interests you - for example, you may prefer a larger company for the security and range of specialized opportunities it offers or a smaller company for greater access to organizational leaders and the potential for a more diverse portfolio.
  • Note any current applications you have on file, including the position number.   
  • Maintain eye contact; ask for a business card; understand the next step in the process; always write a thank-you note. The onus is on you, the job seeker, to follow-up with the recruiter.   

Small Details

  • Always bring extra resumes and business cards. 
  • Avoid dated wardrobe items and excessive military jewelry; strive to project energy and enthusiasm. 
  • Note the names of former colleagues who may be working in the organization. 
  • Don't ignore smaller companies you may not have researched. Initiate the conversation by telling the recruiter that you would like to learn more about their company.
  • Remember: Half of career fair success is knowing as much as you can about the company; anticipating what the company wants to know about you is the other half.
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