How to Fail at a Job Fair

A month ago, I attended a job fair. As an executive recruiter, my primary goal at job fairs is to build my database. I can never be sure what my clients are going to want in the future, so I need to cover all the bases.

My database is electronic. I doubt I have more than half a dozen resumes printed at any point in time. There are just too many candidates to try to keep track of everything with hard copies. This makes it critical for me to get an electronic version of each resume to upload into my database. I don’t have the time to type a resume into the system.

I am explaining my motivation and process so you can understand the mistake a lot of job seekers made at the job fair. When I talked with a candidate that impressed me, I would give them my business card and ask them to email me their resume. I did this with at least thirty or forty different people. After the job fair I received emails following up on the conversations from two people. Two candidates out of thirty or forty took the time to email their resume after a recruiter requested it.

There are a variety of reasons why the candidates didn’t follow up. I expect the most common was they forgot who I was. After meeting with a hundred companies, the job seekers couldn’t remember most of the conversations. All they had was a pocket full of business cards.

I was disappointed so few candidates followed up, but I wasn’t too upset. If a person can’t follow a simple instruction like “email me your resume,” then how successful do you think they are in their career?

I did have a number of job seekers give me paper copies of their resume. A paper copy doesn’t do much for me though. I can’t load the resume into my system without retyping it, and that is too time consuming. When I got home I reviewed the resumes. If someone fit a job we were working right now, they got a call. All the other resumes ended up in a stack and will ultimately be shredded. I could take a job order tomorrow that is ideal for one of the people in the stack, but I have no way of finding the resume.

Bottom line: If you want to maximize your success at a job fair, take notes when speaking with each company and follow up after the job fair.