Stepping Up Your Game: Tips for Navigating Career and Exhibitor Fairs

Jan 27

Thousands of students, new grads, and experienced PTs and PTAs will attend the APTA Combined Sections Meeting in Las Vegas in February.  Many will walk around the exhibit hall, checking out the newest gadgets, gizmos and giveaways.  However, will their thoughts be on the next great employment opportunity right around the corner?

Most people attend these types of events with blinders on, not truly thinking about the job prospects just waiting for them. This should be a great time to network while visiting different companies’ booths.

Here are three tips that will help you stand out from the sea of other clinicians at job and exhibitor fairs:

1. Be engaged: good interactive skills matter

A lot of the time, people are so overwhelmed by all of the attendees and vendors, they start walking around with blank stares on their faces.  Go up to company representatives with a smile, strong eye contact and firm handshake.  Once you have grabbed their attention, be genuinely interested in the information they are sharing.  Ask questions about locations, settings, company culture, etc.  The biggest turn-off for a representative is someone who appears to be there just for the free stuff.

2. Be prepared: first impressions make a difference

Have a resume and/or business card to hand out.  Company representatives speak with 100 or possibly 1,000 attendees during the course of a job fair.  It is impossible for them to remember everyone.  Providing them with a neat and well-written resume will improve your chances of receiving a follow-up email, call, or interview. Also, while conferences are sometimes more of a business casual event, business professional attire is the right fit for job fairs.  It will help you stand out from the other attendees if you are dressed to impress.

3. Be you: create opportunities for you to shine

Do not underestimate the idea of just being yourself.  Your goal is to connect with a company and find one that really fits you and your personality. By genuinely communicating what you are looking for in an organization and the type of environment you enjoy and excel in, you will display confidence in your ability. This will make it much more likely for you to find an opportunity that is a great fit with your personal values and philosophy.

If you follow these simple tips, you are bound to make a great first impression on potential employers, which likely will result in your having the pick of the top opportunities in your field.

Good luck!