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How to Make a Great Impression at the Job Fair

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For years, I hit the road with other School District Hiring Directors as we conducted the 'Meet and Greet' Job Fair rotation. These are grueling days of candidates putting their best forward and Directors searching for the best candidates for their schools. In the past few months, I have attended a couple of Job Fairs representing my University as a volunteer, no longer in the frenetic foray of the Director conducting on-the-spot interviews. This has been a wonderful opportunity for me to watch and to learn what makes the difference.

From my observer perspective, here are some tips to keep in mind:

• It seems obvious to present yourself in a professional light (dress, demeanor, etc.), but I have seen many candidates who didn't seem to get the memo! Wearing jeans and sunglasses in the Fair! Think of the message that sends to an employer!

Don't come across as too familiar. All Directors will wear name badges. This doesn't give you permission to become best friends and call them by their first names. I observed one candidate approach a district and call the women by their first names and address the men as 'Mr. ____'. It was noticed. Ouch!

• Have clean, easily readable resumes to hand to prospective employers. Be ready to succinctly highlight important elements on your resume: area of licensure, university or college you attended, any special experiences or training.

• Only pursue the districts or schools in which you are genuinely interested in teaching. At a Job Fair, the Director's time is limited and he or she has the mission of finding qualified teachers who will meet their needs. If you aren't willing to relocate, don't take the time of a Director from a district out of town, just for the practice of an interview.

• Finally, if you do get an interview, get the interviewer's business card, and send a thank you email or note within the following week in which you make specific comments regarding how you would be a benefit to their district. Make sure that your name is kept in the forefront.

This is the crazy season for job hunting. Best of luck finding the perfect fit!

Jeanne Gilbert
Assistant Professor
Student Teaching Services
Regis University, Denver CO

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