How to ask for work face to face

Is a face to face meeting at a job fair the best way to get hired? Peter Bowes reports

Online job applications and CVs are becoming increasingly common - but you can still land a job by going to meet employers and asking about work.

A face-to-face meeting with an opportunity to look a potential employer in the eye can work wonders.

"I feel human contact is the best way to interact with a person and to really get the feel for that person's personality, their abilities and interpersonal skills," says Sheri Bennett, a former teacher looking for a job in California.

After having no success with more than 200 online applications, Ms Bennett attended a job fair because she felt she could be more persuasive face to face with a recruiter.

"If somebody has the opportunity to look at you in the eyes, they have the opportunity to shake your hand and know if you have a weak handshake or a firm handshake," she says.

'I can hire on the spot'

Job fairs allow candidates to leapfrog over the initial stages of applying for a job. They expedite the process for both the jobseeker and the employer, cutting out an initial online application, a possible phone screening process and the endless waiting for an interview date.

Face to face tips

Recruitment expert Shannon Robinson on how to approach an employer for a job:

  • Be confident. Never speak negatively about your past jobs, employers or yourself.
  • Look smart. Your outward appearance is important and you only get one shot to make a first impression.
  • Give them your best brief pitch. Outline your experience and what you're looking for. Try to convey your passions and goals.
  • Always be sure to have a business card or some way of providing them with your contact information and be sure to get theirs.
  • A firm handshake relays confidence.
  • Your personality is equally important as your qualifications. People hire for two reasons - both your ability to actually do the job and because you would be someone that they or their team would want to work with.
  • Know the background of the company you are meeting, and the responsibilities and qualifications of the position you're after.
  • Have a couple of questions already prepared about the position and the company. Keep it conversational - professional, but not rehearsed.
how to get a job now branding

"It's valuable to go to career fairs for the face to face aspect, but to do research on companies or on industries or where the openings are at, there's so much more you can do now to ready yourself for that first interview," says Dan Sparks, vice-president of sales at Hire Live, a recruitment service in the US.

At a recent event in Pasadena, California, the hiring firms included a car rental company, a solar provider, a memorial park and an insurance company. Jobseekers were first interviewed by a company recruiter and then, in some cases, a manager.

"I can hire on the spot if I want to," says Michael Vaccaro, a district sales manager with Sears.

The department store had a position for a salesperson to go into people's homes and give presentations on home improvement projects. But Mr Vaccaro says such jobs are not easy to fill.

He says the dearth in talent means employers are often vying for the best candidates. For jobseekers determined to find a new position, it is an opportunity to make a good first impression.

Do your homework

"Some are very prepared," says Mr Sparks.

He says candidates should attend events knowing which companies are going to be there, what they have to offer and what positions they're looking for.

"Go onto their websites, learn a little bit about that company," he says.

"They can even bring what we call a brag book with them and so they can say, 'I was top 10% at my last company, I made president's club, I did this, I did that.' You can show your proof that you're good at what you do."

He says it leaves a recruiter with a good impression.

"They just think that this person knows what they want, this person is articulate, this person has already researched it, this is the candidate that we want to move forward with."

Biggest mistake

But job fairs, with the allure of instant success, also attract candidates who are ill-prepared.

"The biggest mistake is probably walking in and saying, 'I need a job,'" says Mr Sparks.

"Not 'I want to be a sales person,' it's just, 'I need a job, times are hard right now and I just need a job.'"

He says candidates must have a plan and be focused on what they want. They should know the kind of work they want to do and have an idea of the geographical area they can operate in.

A better approach would be: "'I want to be a salesperson, I like inside sales or I like outside sales. I want to work within a 30-mile radius of here. I want to be in this industry.'

"You can be open to different industries and open to sales, but you can't just walk in and tell a recruiter, 'I want a job'. Right when you say that, it doesn't matter what happens after that, they are not going to think about you after you leave."

More Business stories


BBC Business Live

    08:36: BAE BUYER

    BAE Systems continues its movement into cyber security, stumping up £144m for Perimeter Internetworking Corp, which trades as SilverSky, a cloud security firm. The purchase will add to earnings in three years, says the firm

    08:24: TOTAL SHARES

    Shares in French oil firm Total are understandably lower this morning following the death overnight of the company's widely respected chief executive Christophe de Margerie in a plan crash in Moscow. Total has opened down nearly 3% to €42.94.

    08:12: WHITBREAD
    General view of cup from a Costa Coffee shop,

    Revenue for the owner of Costa Coffee and Premier Inn was up 13% to £1.29bn for the six months ended 28 August. Whitbread chief executive Andy Harrison said: "The trading momentum of our strong first half performance has continued into the first few weeks of the second half and positions Whitbread well to deliver full year results in line with expectations."

    08:00: GKN RESULTS

    GKN, which makes parts of planes and cars, said sales fell of the third quarter - that's July to September - but profit rose. A stronger pound than last year caused much of the lost revenue. For the rest of the year, the motor and aerospace market will grow, while agriculture "looks set to continue its recent decline," it says.

    07:50: ARM CHIPS BBC Radio 4

    Simon Segars the boss of chipmaker ARM is on the Today programme. He says lots of companies license his firm's tech so he's not worried about competition from the likes of Intel, which is now targeting ARM's market. "Competition is a good thing," he says. He adds: "History has shown the technology solution that we produce is the one that goes into most devices. Virtually every smartphone in the world uses an ARM processor". So, safe to say he's not worried in the slightest then.

    ASOS webpage screengrab

    Online retailer ASOS has reported as 14% slump in profits to £46.9m. Last year ASOS reported profits of £54.7m. There are no surprises here, though. The firm has previously warned "disruption" from investment in warehousing and the launch of its new business in China would hurt profits and that remains the case. Boss Nick Robertson says the firm is "in a period of major investment that comes at a short term cost, but the medium-term benefits will be significant."

    07:20: ARM CHIPS

    ARM, which could well make the chips in your mobile phone, says it made $320m (£195.5m) of sales in the third quarter, up 12% compared with last year. It will probably sell $350m in the final three months of the year, it said.

    Reckitt Benckiser products

    Reckitt Benckiser says it now expects full year revenue growth at the lower end of its total revenue growth target of 4-5%. The firm "delivered a robust performance in tougher markets in the third quarter" it said.

    07:00: CHINA GROWTH BBC Radio 4

    China's economy grew by 7.3% in the three months to September, compared with expectations of 7.2%. But it's still the lowest growth in six years. The BBC's Chief Business Correspondent Linda Yueh tells the Today programme Chinese monetary policymakers want to slow the Chinese economic growth gradually and allow the rest of the world to get used to it. China is becoming a "middle income economy" she says and will revert to a normal path for a developed economy over time of around 3% to 4%.

    Via Twitter Linda Yueh Chief business correspondent

    tweets: My interview with CEO of Oscar de la Renta fashion house, Alex Bolen, from Talking Business

    06:41: ENGINEERING SKILLS Radio 5 live

    We don't have enough engineers in the UK or scientists for that matter argues Ann Watson of Semta, an engineering skills charity, on 5 live. She says: "We need a million scientists, engineers and technicians by 2020, We are starting to see a shortage in education; people training those recruits." The perception of engineering as a "dirty, oily industry" doesn't help, she says.

    06:30: STOCK MARKET Radio 5 live

    Jane Foley, senior currency strategist at Rabobank is on 5 live talking about the falling stock market. "If we see stocks fall more we may see companies bargain hunting," she says. So more firms may start purchasing each other.

    06:21: HEATHROW TRAVEL Radio 5 live

    Travel writer Simon Calder is on 5 live talking about the weather. He says he sees about 50 weather-related cancellations at Heathrow, so perhaps about 5% of flights so far. Flights to Frankfurt look hard to come by, he says.


    Heathrow airport has said this morning that around 10% of flights will be cancelled today as the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo hit the UK. Flights with the 20 biggest carriers would be affected, it says. British Airways has already cancelled some ahead of the expected severe weather. The remains of the hurricane are predicted to bring heavy rain and gusts of up to 75mph in some areas, causing disruption to rush-hour travel. If you're travelling today it's worth checking before you arrive at the airport.

    06:02: TOTAL CEO DEATH Radio 5 live

    Christophe de Margerie, the chief executive of French oil company Total, has died in an air crash in Moscow. Sarah Rainsford, the BBC's correspondent in Moscow says poor weather with low visibility is a possible cause of the crash. His plane crashed when it collided with a snow-clearing machine killing him and three crew, she tells 5 live.

    06:01: Howard Mustoe Business reporter

    Good morning! Get in touch via email or on twitter @BBCBusiness.

    06:00: Matthew West Business reporter

    Morning folks, we have the latest public borrowing figures out at 9:30 today. But before that we have full year results from online retailer ASOS, and interim figures from Whitbread, plus the weather is promising to play havoc with the transport network today with 10% of flights out of Heathrow already cancelled this morning. We'll bring you everything as it happens.



From BBC Capital


  • Ade Adepitan at the ColosseumThe Travel Show Watch

    The challenge of providing disabled access at Europe’s leading ancient monuments

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.