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Effective Job Applications at Job Fairs

April 24, 2007|By Shanon Wolf, Washington County One-Stop Job Center, and Norine Dagliano, ekm Inspirations

Don't think you can just bring a résumé to a job fair. Most employers will also want you to complete a job application. How you fill out the application will determine whether you are called back for an interview.

Take time before the job fair to fill out a "mock application" to make sure you have all the information you need to make a great impression. You may not be allowed to take the application home to complete it. Local employers in a recent survey offered tips that will give you an edge.

Advice from Employers ....

* Look over the whole application before you start to fill it out.

* Print neatly and use blue or black ink pen.

* Answer every question. Blanks or incomplete answers may disqualify you. Write N/A if it doesn't apply to you. Bring information with you so that you can give dates, company names, names of supervisors, names of references, addresses and phone numbers for each.

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* Never just put the word "anything" or "doesn't matter" in the "Position Applied For" blank. Be specific and honest about what you are looking for. If you don't know what kind of positions the company has, ask someone. A general position like "warehouse" or "clerical" may be appropriate if you don't know specific job titles.

* Relate your experience to the job opening. Employers also look at how long you were at each job. Include accomplishments, not just job duties.

* Don't lie when asked why you left a job. It's better to volunteer termination reasons; don't make the employer have to ask. List negative reasons in a positive way.

* Make sure you have solved the problem that caused you to be terminated. If you were terminated for a reason such as absenteeism, you could put on the application "Terminated - I was having car problems and missed work but now have good transportation."

* Don't make negative comments about a former employer.

* Explain gaps in your work history or they will be red flags to employers. Explain reasons for leaving short-term jobs. Job-hopping is negative if not explained.

* Highlight skills from extra-curricular and volunteer activities that can be transferred to the job for which you are applying.

* Have a telephone number or a reliable telephone contact where you can receive messages. If you do give a message number, check with that person frequently to make sure you get messages quickly. Make sure your phone doesn't have a funny or unusual voice mail message on it.

* Be realistic about the minimum salary you will accept. Put it on the application if you will not work for less. Put "negotiable" if you are willing to negotiate salary. It's okay to put in a salary range.

* Have information on both personal and business references ready. Most employers don't want you to use relatives. Be sure your references know that you are using them. Have complete contact information with you, including addresses and telephone numbers.

* Be honest about personal limitations if you don't read or write well. Complete the application yourself. Be sure your application is complete even if your spelling isn't very good. If you are attending classes, such as Adult Basic Education or GED, to upgrade your skills put that information on the application.

* Dress for Success. How you are dressed when you go to the job fair is important, too. Employers may not even offer you an application if they are turned off by your appearance. Many job seekers make the mistake of wearing clothes that are too casual. Don't wear jeans, shorts or t-shirts. Don't wear clothes that are torn or dirty or clothes that don't fit. Piercings or tattoos can be a turn off so tone them down or make sure they aren't visible. Leave chewing gum and cigarettes at home or in your pocket. Choose your outfit based on the type of work you want. How you dress really can make you stand out and improve your chances of getting the interview.

REMEMBER: MOST JOB SEEKERS ARE SCREENED OUT AT THE APPLICATION STAGE!

STAY IN THE RUNNING USING GOOD APPLICATION SKILLS.

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