Top tips for Military Veterans to succeed at a Career Fair

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Chad Storlie
Guest Columnist

 Planning for an effective military to civilian transition is one of the most vital things to do for an effective career, family, and financial transition.  A job fair also known as a career fair is one of those steps.  Here are some tips how to have an effective and rewarding career fair.

  1. Arrive early, hydrated and fed.  Job fairs start early.  Arrive early to get a place in line and a close parking spot
  2. Dress for the job you want.  Plan to attend a job fair in professional and conservative business attire – a jacket, tie, dress shoes, and dress slacks.  It is tempting to wear your uniform, but a professional employer wants to be able to see you in their organization, not as a soldier, sailor, marine, or airmen.  Finally, impeccable personal dress is a way to standout.  Finally, wear comfortable shoes; you will do a lot of walking.
  3. Have a plan.  Create a personal plan for the companies that you want to meet with and have a personalized cover letter and resume for each of these companies.  This way, you have a personalized card, cover letter, and resume for each company when you speak to them.  This amount of preparation and personalization makes a substantial difference.
  4. Be prepared to interview.  Be ready and able to have a 30-60-minute interview with a company.  If you make a great first impression, the company may want to interview right on the spot.  Use the STARS format to answer interview questions.
  5. Situation, task, action, result and skills (STARS)
  6. Situation:  Describe the context within which you performed a job or faced a challenge at work.
  7. Task: Describe your responsibility in that situation.
  8. Action: Describe how you completed the task or endeavored to meet the challenge. Focus on what you did, rather than what your team, boss, or coworker did.
  9. Result: Finally, explain the outcomes or results generated by the action taken.
  10. Skills: Skills you used to be successful – includes both hard (technical) skills and soft skills (leadership, teaching, etc.).
  11. Create 6-10 sentence answers to frequent questions on leadership, improvements, cost savings, and how you learned a new skill.
  12. Attend the classes.  Career fairs are often filled with classes on resume reviews by HR professionals, panels of employers, and other resources to help in a career change.  Take advantage and network during these training opportunities.
  13. Have a follow up plan.  When you meet with the companies, ask when you can follow up for more information, an interview, and get phone numbers and interviews for the follow up.
  14. A career fair is only one way to find a job.  Don’t expect a career fair to be your entire answer to secure employment.  Continue to network, have personal interviews, and contact companies for other opportunities.  Remember, your goal is not one, but multiple job offers to be successful.