6 “First-Timer” Tips for a Successful Job Fair

If it’s your first trip to Bootcamp — congratulations! You’re about to experience one of the most unique, empowering events of a lifetime. It’s the perfect place to launch your new copywriting career … especially because of Job Fair.

Without a doubt, you’re excited — and maybe a little nervous — about Job Fair. The course of your entire career could change in a matter of moments. You’ve heard the amazing stories about writers being hired on the spot … and that same success could soon be yours!

There are lots of things I wish I had known before my first Job Fair. I hope these insider tips help you feel more prepared … less nervous … and guide you toward rocking your first Job Fair!

1. Dress comfortably but professionally.

The dress code for most of Bootcamp is business casual, but you want to look as professional as possible at Job Fair.

That being said, Job Fair is almost three hours long.

Ladies, the floor in the ballroom is carpet, not tile. Unless you’re used to wearing your heels for hours at a time, I would suggest flats or platforms at the most. I actually had to take my heels off, my feet hurt so badly.

It’s also worth mentioning that it gets hot. Even with the air conditioning, several hundred semi-nervous people in one room all adds up to some serious body heat.

Plus, it’s Florida. It’s still warm and humid in October. So gentlemen, your best winter wool suit might not be the best choice.

Dress light, comfortable, and professional.

2. Do your research.

Every year, AWAI posts a list of all the companies that will be at Job Fair. Go through it and pick out 10 to 15 of them that you’d like to meet … and possibly work for.

Then, go to each of those company’s websites. Subscribe to their e-letter. Read some of their sales copy. Listen to their Video Sales Letters. Look at all the products or services they have to offer (you could even order a few, if you’d like).

Basically, do everything you can to get to know the company. You could even take notes on each company, bring them to Job Fair with you, and review them before you approach each table.

Having working knowledge of a company’s products, services, audience, and current marketing pieces will give you the opportunity to have a real conversation with the marketer. They’re more likely to remember you that way!

3. Have a plan and pace yourself.

Take the list of companies you’ve researched and prioritize them. Then, take your top three and put them in the middle of your list.

In my experience, it takes a few rounds of chatting up marketers to get warmed up.

Even if you have tons of experience in networking, public speaking, or theatre, Job Fair is its own ballgame. You want to get your nerves out, get your voice warmed up, and start feeling confident before you go to the “high priority” clients you have your eye on.

Then, when you get to Bootcamp, check the Job Fair map in your registration packet. Scope out where your priority clients are going to be and make a roadmap so you make sure to see them all.

4. What you need to bring …

Before I get into this, you should know the bottom line on this:

You do not need to bring anything to Job Fair.

Do not worry if you don’t have samples or a portfolio or a resume. No one is expecting you to bring them and you don’t have an advantage if you do. What it truly comes down to is the work you do on your Spec Assignments.

With that being said, I do want to tell you what worked for me, and helped me feel prepared. This route is completely optional.

I brought:

  • Business cards
  • A writer’s resume
  • A portfolio of samples
  • A notepad and pen
  • A large bag, briefcase or purse of some sort

Your business cards should have your name, email address, and your phone number at minimum. It’s even better if you can put a writer’s website and your picture on it.

And even if you don’t have samples or experience, you can still put together a nice-looking writer’s resume. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never had a client. You can put the AWAI programs you’ve completed and “Bootcamp 2013” on it under “Training & Education.”

If you do have some samples of paid or unpaid writing, put them together in a portfolio. If you’ve been through the Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting, then you should have at least one sales letter under your belt — one that’s been reviewed, revised, and ready for hiring eyes.

If you have a lot of samples to work with, pick your best samples of each type of writing you want to continue doing. My portfolio has email series, long sales copy, web pages, and soft marketing materials like articles. Honestly, some marketers won’t even take your portfolio if you offer it. They prefer that you just do their Spec Assignment.

I took notes on business cards and spec sheets, but I would have used a notebook if I’d had one. I recommend stopping between each marketer to take notes. (See Tip #6.)

Finally, a bag is probably the one thing you should bring. The Bootcamp tote bag you’ll get at registration is perfect (but leave the binder in your room). You want your hands as free as possible for handshakes, picking up marketer’s materials, and handing out your portfolio packet … so you’ll need a place to put everything!

5. Practice your “elevator speech.”

You only have a few minutes with each marketer, so it helps to come up with a brief speech about yourself.

For example, I might say, “Hi there, my name is Rae Robinson. I have three years of experience writing in a variety of niches, but I’m mostly interested in long copy alternative health promotions. I’ve been through the Accelerated Copywriting Program and I write regularly for AWAI, Newsmax Health, and the Healthy Back Institute.”

Of course, you’ll want to be conversational, but that’s enough to get started.

Remember your research that you did in Tip #2. This is your chance to present your knowledge and ask how you can help them.

Do this in front of a mirror before you go down to Job Fair. Grab your Bootcamp buddy and practice back and forth a few times to get warmed up. It might sound silly, but it helps!

6. Take notes.

I recommend stopping after each marketer to write down what they said before you go on to the next one.

Sometimes marketers will amend information on the spec sheet, or give you hints about what kind of copy works best for them. You’ll want notes on all of that.

You’ll also want to note something specific about your discussion to use as an opener in your Spec Assignment cover letter. (For example, “I’m glad we had a chance to talk at Job Fair about your need for attention-grabbing email subject lines.”) A little tidbit will remind the marketer who you are and that you made a connection.

Job Fair moves fast and it’s easy to forget an important piece of info.

That’s it!

I hope this brief walk-through will help you feel more prepared going into Job Fair. If you dress professionally (but comfortably), do your research, make a plan, and bring the materials you feel most comfortable bringing, you’ll be absolutely fine.

If you have any other questions about what to expect at Job Fair, ask! The ladies at Member Services are always willing to help — and if you leave me a comment below, I’m happy to answer to the best of my ability.

Good luck, and Happy Job Fair!

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: August 29, 2013

2 Responses to “6 “First-Timer” Tips for a Successful Job Fair”

  1. Thanks so much for this, Rae. It's so helpful to get an idea about what to expect at the Job Fair.

    In my former life, I was a professional classical musician, and this reminds me so much of the audition process-you know you're ready, but not sure of the outcome. You just have to do it. Best of luck everyone!

    Guest (Frances Dial)

  2. Great article Rae. Your approach was briliant. You came in with a plan and showed great marketing savvy. I'm sure that made a great impression on the clients you spoke to.

    Bob Ett

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