Are you a recruiter?
You are likely to hear conflicting advice on whether you need to bring both your CV and cover letter to jobs fairs. Although it is generally agreed that it is wise to take along your CV, some job sites suggest there is no need to prepare cover letters. This is arguably not the best advice. If you want to stand out from the crowd and secure your next dream job, one of your biggest weapons is to do your homework and arrive at the jobs fair armed with both your CV and cover letter.
If you are planning to attend a jobs fair in your nearest town or city, you are likely to have plenty of time to prepare, so how best can you present your credentials effectively to every person that you meet? It will be easier to connect with recruiters and make the most of the jobs fair experience if you know exactly what you are going to say and to whom. This is where your CV and cover letter come in. Your CV will provide a snapshot of everything that potential employers need to know about you in a nutshell, from essential contact information and skills, to employment history and work experience. Having up-to-date, accurate printed copies to hand, ready to give to recruiters, will provide all the information they need at a glance after you have made initial contact. That way, they will be able to follow up with candidates who have made the right impression after the event. So, by handing out printed CVs, you are more likely to be called to interview.
A good point to make is that you should try to give your CV to prospective employers at the start of any conversation. You can then reference certain achievements you would like to mention, or the recruiter may wish to highlight a skill that has been brought to their attention and ask you to elaborate, providing a good talking point and steering the conversation in the direction you would like it to take. Job event organisers usually recommend printing out around 20 CVs prior to attending any event.
However, if you have done your research, you will know exactly how many CVs you are likely to need because you will have drawn up a list of the companies you plan to approach. If you apply for a job, employers expect you to include a cover letter along with your CV, so why not take along a tailored cover letter for the companies where you would like to work? This shows you are serious about wanting to work there. Job hunting can be a tough battle, so by taking the initiative to prepare a cover letter for the company in question, you will be more likely to outshine other hopefuls.
Presenting a cover letter that has been specifically written for the individual company will increase your chances of being hired, and I cannot stress enough the importance of tailoring each letter. Show you know about the company, its vision, mission and corporate values, and write your cover letter to reflect these. If a job advert has been posted on the company website, there will be a list of requirements, so make sure you can illustrate that you meet each of the company’s needs, with examples, of course. To this end, you are demonstrating that you are not just interested in working at the company, but you are the perfect candidate for the job.
Thinking about it from a potential employer’s perspective, who are they more likely to hire? The candidate who shows up to the job fair with all the chat but no CV and cover letter, or the candidate who can demonstrate effectively that they are the right person for the job with an up-to-date CV and professional cover letter?
In online applications, a polished CV and first-class cover letter can help to seal the deal, so, in the same way, boost your prospects by bringing along your CV and customised cover letter for each organisation you plan to approach at the jobs fair. Plus, don’t forget your paper and pen so you can make notes that may be useful when it comes to following up on contacts you have made. It is not always easy to stand out from the crowd at job events, but if you show organisation in this way, you will know you have done everything in your power to increase your chances of success.