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Go to job fair well prepared

Dress appropriately when you go to meet employers at a job fair. Be ready to talk about your experience and skills, and what type of work you’re seeking.

Times files (2009)

Dress appropriately when you go to meet employers at a job fair. Be ready to talk about your experience and skills, and what type of work you’re seeking.

With apologies to experienced job hunters who know these things, here's a review of job fair basics. Based on a recent job fair, it's clear many first-time job seekers could use some help. Diane Stafford, McClatchy-Tribune Newspapers

Dress up. Don't wear baggy pants or shirts, flip-flops, untied tennis shoes, ripped jeans, clothing with slogans or graphic art, or skimpy tops that show cleavage. The people staffing booths are likely to be wearing "office casual" or suits. Your goal is to look like you belong.

Don't grab so much loot that you can't easily get to your resume. You're welcome to pick up the candy and gizmos that employers offer, but a Halloween haul isn't why you're there. Get the goodies on your way out.

Cover your tattoos and consider removing at least some piercings if you're particularly well decorated. Remember: It's easier for hirers to identify with you if you fit their idea of an employee.

When asked what job you're interested in, don't say, "Anything" or "I don't know." Have in mind some kind of work, and know whether the employer you're visiting has that job as a possibility.

Greet properly. Offer a firm handshake and a smile, and make eye contact.

Summarize briefly. Be ready with a sentence or two about any past job experience or internships you've had.

Highlight your skills. If you've never worked for pay before, be ready to say something about your education, skills or interests.

Have a resume. You won't be hired on the spot because of it, but it will go in a pile to be looked at later.

Bring a pen and paper. You may want to jot down company Web or e-mail addresses to follow up with applications. Better yet, see if you can get a name and phone number from a company representative. You'll probably be directed to an online hiring site, but if you've made a great impression, you may be able to make actual human contact.

Don't ask, "What does this company do?" Most job fairs publicize ahead of time the names of employers who will be in attendance. Research who will be there and what kind of work they do.

Diane Stafford is the workplace and careers columnist at the Kansas City Star.

Go to job fair well prepared 08/09/10 [Last modified: Monday, August 9, 2010 11:00am]
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