Making the transition from active duty to civilian life can be challenging. One of biggest hurdles veterans face after discharge is finding employment, but job fairs aimed at helping them connect with prospective employers can be a game changer—provided veterans know how to use them to their advantage.
How do I find a job fair near me?
Before you can prepare for an upcoming job fair, you need to know where to find one. The good news is that a quick internet search should turn up several options in your area. Sites such as RecruitMilitary and Veterans2Work provide a list of upcoming job fairs to help veterans (and military spouses) connect with employers who are ready to hire. They also provide free assistance with resumé writing and interview preparation.
If there is nothing in your area or your transportation options are limited, Veteran Recruiting takes a twenty-first century approach to finding employment with their virtual career fairs. They allow veterans to “meet” with employers and even set up video interviews to facilitate the hiring process.
Make the most of your next job fair with these quick tips.
One of the biggest mistakes veterans make is thinking they can simply show up at a job fair. If your years in the military taught you anything, it should be the value of being prepared—and the same goes for finding your next career. Here are some quick tips to help you make the most of your next job fair.
Plan ahead.Visit the event website to get a general idea of the layout and prioritize the booths you want to visit. If you are interested in specific companies, do you research and learn something about them before you go. Prepare a brief “elevator pitch” about yourself (including any unique skills or character qualities) to break the ice with recruiters. Although most businesses will request a digital copy of your resumé, it doesn’t hurt to have a few printed copies on hand. Finally, clear your schedule and plan to spend a good amount of time at the job fair. Make sure you visit every booth, because you may find an employment opportunity where you least expect it.
Dress the part.Just like you would with a formal job interview, make sure you show up in business attire. That means leave your uniform at home; recruiters want to see someone who is ready to join the civilian workforce. Present yourself professionally and project confidence. Make eye contact, personally address each recruiter and shake hands. Because recruiters will likely see a number of veterans throughout the day, give them something to remember you by. Ask their name and inquire about their position with the company and what they enjoy most about working there. If appropriate, strike up a conversation about something other than employment. As you leave, be sure to thank them and repeat their name back to them to leave a lasting impression.
Don’t be afraid to talk salary.A lot of veterans are apprehensive about discussing salary—don’t be. If you have a specific job or career in mind, research the salary range beforehand and think about what you feel you deserve. When the recruiter asks, providing a number shows your preparedness and tells them you are a serious candidate. Even if you don’t meet some of the requirements, your military skills and experience likely translate into on-the-job assets, so don’t be afraid to toot your own horn.
Follow up with recruiters.This is an important step after any job interview but one that many people overlook. During your initial meeting with the job fair recruiter, you likely received their card or contact information. Be sure to follow up with an email reaffirming your interest in the job and thanking them for taking the time to speak with you. A small step, but one that goes a long way toward helping you stand out amid a sea of applicants.
Make sure you have a copy of your DD214.You likely won’t need it at the job fair, but as the employment process moves forward you are going to need to show proof of service. For members of the Armed Forces (the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard), one of the simplest ways to do that is by providing a copy of your DD Form 214. Your DD214 should have been issued upon separation or discharge from active duty, but this is not always the case. Some veterans never receive theirs, and sometimes a DD214 can be lost, destroyed or even stolen.
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