I never believed in Career Exhibitions, especially since I didn't find a job in the 18 different exhibitions I had visited in my university life. I went in there without knowing what I'm supposed to do, and just because I saw people hand out their CVs… I did the same.
Exhibition number 19 was different though, it wasn't planned and I found a wonderful job opportunity, despite being in shorts and flip-flops. I didn’t plan on going, but a friend of mine wanted to visit, so I tagged along. I remembered exactly what I did that day that landed me my first full-time job. I did three main things during my visit number 19, and here's what they were:
1-Don't print out your CV!
Since exhibition #19 was not planned, I did not take any CVs with me. That's when I felt the need to shine outside the CV. I needed to show the companies who I really was (even while wearing shorts & flip-flops). I knew companies receive hundreds if not thousands of CVs in these fairs, and mine would've probably ended somewhere in the middle of that huge pile. Having that in mind made me talk more to companies and strike up conversations and had me promote my achievements & experiences on a personal level.
Companies knew who I was and what I can offer just through short chats here and there. These relationships helped me get insights on how companies recruited, the kind of talent & skills they were looking for, and finally, I knew someone working there who could help me get my CV in front of the right person. I collected business cards & contact details from the people I talked to, and that helped me greatly with the point below.
3-Follow-up with your newly established relationship
I sent out a follow-up email the next day; thanking them for a rich conversation and sharing my CV with them for their review (before officially submitting my CV for a job). In that email I asked them for their feedback on my CV and if they think I should make any changes to it (most of them didn't give me any feedback about changes, but that gesture made sure they went through my CV). I scheduled a monthly follow-up email to the 10 companies I REALLY WANTED TO WORK FOR and that kept my relationship with my network alive. Even after landing a job and starting to work, I kept contacting my network with updates about my achievements and interesting articles based on our conversations during the exhibition.
Giving away CVs to every company didn't help thousands of job seekers… don't make the same mistake.