I’ve been featured as a resume reviewer at events for CareerBuilder, Jobing.com, Women for Hire, the San Diego Union-Tribune, and a few other organizations (and I’m happy to consider additional appearances—contact me!). I thought I’d share some tips for professional resume writers, career coaches, HR pros, and others gearing up to review resumes at job fairs.
You will be the most popular person in the room. Any given employer at a career fair will attract a subset of candidates—but everyone will want to know if their resume is up to speed.
Keep moving. Don’t get bogged down in minutiae—identify the most significant issues, which will be a tremendously valuable service to candidates. It’s like triage: treat resume-killing problems and move on. I use a small hourglass (see equipment list below) to remind myself to come up for air.
Watch out for “one more question…” and those who would monopolize your time. Again, an hourglass is a useful signal.
Drink water, stretch, take breaks if/when you can (though I usually soldier on , taking masochistic pride in setting up before the Marine recruiters, going without a box lunch in favor of helping more people, and leaving after the Marines have struck their displays. Oorah!)
Here’s a list of items I bring when I’m appearing as a resume reviewer, not giving a speech or presentation. As an ex-Boy Scout, this list is heavily informed by the Scout Motto: Be Prepared.
- Cash for parking, just in case. It’s obnoxious when event organizers don’t cover this, but it happens.
- Business cards. As many as you might think you need, then double that amount just in case.
- Business card holders. Arrange on display table so people can serve themselves while passing by.
- Signup sheet for names and email addresses. This enables me to follow up with visitors, add subscribers to my newsletter, and possibly convert them to clients.
- Drop box for resumes. A long line will form; having a drop box is an excellent way to cut down the line, free people to network at the event, collect resumes to review on your own time, and follow up with them.
- Signs identifying your company. Bring your own to ensure optimal branding—and to ensure you don’t suffer from an event organizer misspelling your name or omitting your website’s URL.
- Nametag/business card holder identifying you.
- Extra pens. The first one will stop working as crowds begin forming.
- Wristwatch, egg timer, or hourglass.
- Handouts with advice, branded.
- Display posters and stands, branded. Gives people something to look at while they’re in line, and maybe you can address FAQs this way so you don’t have to repeat key ideas fifty times.
- Booklet of sample resumes. Keep an eye on this so it doesn’t walk off.
- Books or a printed bibliography. I refer people to these for information beyond the scope I can address in the short time I have. It’s also a good idea to feature books you’re published in.
- Bottled water (pay attention to your voice, and stay hydrated).
- Breath mints.
- Hand sanitizer.
- Spare dress shirt and slacks/spare business attire (in case of spills/accidents).
Susan Whitcomb adds:
- it’s helpful to have before-and-after resume samples in those samples you referred to. People are often amazed when they see “average” go to “outstanding.”
- a port-o-potty (you’ll be so popular, you won’t have time to get to the restroom)! =)
What would you add?