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Job fairs are in season, are you ready?

Spring college graduations bring a season of job fairs. Here are tips from local and national experts on putting your best foot forward at a job fair.
by Heather Warlick Published: March 5, 2013
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Oklahoma's job market changes constantly, and with spring and college graduations on the horizon, job seekers will be sprucing up their resumes, dry cleaning their best suits and heading out to the many upcoming job fairs.

Job fairs are a great way to meet with a large number of companies that are in hiring mode. Some of these fairs are tailored to graduating college students. Others are for veterans returning to the civilian workforce. Most, however, are open to the public and offer a large variety of employers.

For example, at Wednesday's Oklahoma City Community College Job Fair, representatives from Andy Alligator's Fun Park will have a booth alongside companies like Fed Ex and Frito Lay.

Many of the employers will be hiring for full- and part-time positions.

Tips

Here are eight tips from local and national experts for impressing potential employers and standing out from a crowd of job seekers.

Rescue your resume

For people in highly creative fields such as graphic design, art and interior design, a new trend of highly designed resumes can help you stand out from a crowd while highlighting your creativity and skills. But colorful, artfully designed resumes aren't for everyone.

“We're not particularly an advocate of those for all majors,” Bette Scott said. “The graphically designed resumes work well for people who are in the more creative or artistic fields. That may be expected, or they can make themselves stand out that way. For other career fields it might be a deterrent.”

When writing your resume, there are a few things to make sure you include and a few things to make sure you omit.

Leave any and all high school information off your resume if you're a college graduate. A few exceptions to that rule, Scott said, are highly impressive items such as being an Eagle Scout or the valedictorian for your class.

Where resumes once had an “Objectives” paragraph placed prominently, today's experts recommend either tailoring your objective to match the needs of the company you're applying to or leaving that paragraph out all together.

“It tends to limit you too much or it is so weak and doesn't really say anything,” Scott said.

Your resume must have all your current contact information at the top. Depending on your level of experience and education, the next section of your resume should highlight your most relevant, valuable experience in reverse chronological order. For example, a recent college graduate's resume would likely begin with information about their educational accomplishments, highlighting a good G.P.A. (above 3.0, if lower, omit), leadership, volunteer work, honors and awards and other college achievements.

A veteran's resume would likely begin with listing the job seeker's work history, with detailed descriptions of the skills acquired for each position held.

Some experts suggest tailoring your entire resume to the employer you're applying to by including key words from the job description and highlighting your most relevant experience, whether or not it is your most recent.

Be sure to spell check your resume and have as many people as possible proofread it.

Do not include references on your resume, but have them ready, printed separately, should an employer ask for them.

Do your homework.

“I think the biggest mistake career fair attendees make is not really researching the companies ahead of time,” said Bette Scott, director of Career Services at the University of Oklahoma.

You don't need to memorize the company's history, mission statement and employee roster, but you should know what industry the company is in, what work the company does, how the company's name is pronounced, experts said.

These may seem like simple things, but Scott said they can make a big difference.

Dress the part.

Professional dress is a must at a job fair — for men, a dark suit and tie and for women, a skirt suit, pantyhose and heels.

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by Heather Warlick
Life & Style Editor
Since graduating from University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism, Staff Writer Heather Warlick has written stories for The Oklahoman's Life section. Her beats have included science, health, home and garden, family,...
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