Career Fair Confidential: Making the most of your opportunities
Hospitality career fairs are like a rehearsal for a job interview. You have the opportunity to meet with prospective employers, present your skills and credentials, and plan your employment strategy. But as with any job interview, you must prepare properly to make the most of the fair.
First a couple definitions: there are job fairs and career fairs. Job fairs in the hospitality industry are generally hosted by individual organizations, like Starbuck’s looking to fill specific positions and holding their own recruitment days, or big resorts hiring seasonal staff. Career fairs, on the other hand, are organized by universities and colleges on the institution’s premises, where job seekers looking for a hotel job, for instance, can visit booths run by Starwood, Hyatt, Delta, Fairmont and others. If you’re embarking on a hospitality career, these fairs are ideal for getting the right information on the industry.
“It’s all about approachability and access,” says Jordan Romoff of Lecours Wolfson, a North American recruiter of hospitality executives, managers and chefs. “Career fairs provide potential employees with information, a friendly face and access to potential employers in their chosen career. There’s a huge difference in taking your resume to the HR director at a major hotel and possibly getting a reply or not and going to that career fair where you can make a personal connection, show up, shake hands, get a card. You’ve already had the first interview and can move directly to the second stage.”
Why the career fair?
The shortage of talent in the hospitality industry has made the career fair an indispensable recruitment tool for hospitality companies hiring both reactively and proactively – for specific positions and future openings. Says Romoff, “Successful companies at career fairs are there proactively. They are attending whether they need people or not. They’re getting the message out, ‘this is a great place to work, we’re interested in talking to you.’” In addition to scouting for talent, they are also branding themselves, putting their companies on the map, and creating a positive buzz among job seekers.
How can I make the most of the career fair?
You need a strategy to attend career fairs successfully so you avoid information overload and hone your search, just as you would if you were sifting through job postings online.
“The best way to approach a career fair is to become prepared,” says Mary L. Douglas, Director of Placement, Conrad H. Hilton College, University of Houston. “That means dressed professionally with several professional resumes and most of all, research on the companies that you plan to talk to. I have a career fair in my college each semester. The students get a list of the companies that will be in attendance, and I insist that they do research. They should be prepared to listen to the company representative, they should be prepared to ask questions about the company as well. They should leave a resume with the representative and get a business card. The next day or so, they should follow up with a thank letter or note indicating that they enjoyed speaking with them about job possibilities and look forward to hearing from them.”
Tips to benefit from your hospitality career fairs
- Get the list of presenters before you attend the fair.
- Concentrate your time with potential employers who are closely aligned with your vision. For instance, if you’re interested in a career with a large hotel chain with properties worldwide, find out which of these companies will be attending.
- Research your “hit list” beforehand. Online information coupled with the career fairs makes you a more intelligent job seeker.
- Set your goal for the fair. Your strategy should be to come away with an opportunity for follow-up and/or an interview. “The fair is designed to break down the wall that might exist between job seeker and employer, provide access and approachability, in a setting that’s less formal than a meeting,” says Romoff. “There’s less stress, and you’re not put on the spot and evaluated through a series of questions.”
- Make sure your resume is up-to-date and professional, and bring several copies to give to prospective employers.
- Engage employers in conversation about their businesses, their possible openings, and where you might fit into their organization.
- Don’t forget your follow-up. This ensures potential hospitality employers know you’re interested and available.
After attending a career fair, the door should be wide open for you!
Register for one of Hcareers’ Hospitality Career Fairs TODAY!