How can I use job fairs/events to get an NGO job?
What is a job fair and how do they work?
A job fair is a gathering of employers who are actively recruiting for new staff.
- Job fairs usually take place over a day or half day and can be face to face or online. It is an effective way for NGO recruiters to meet a lot of potential candidates in a short space of time and for jobseekers to find out more about vacancies on offer
- Face to face job fairs usually have employers setting out their “stalls” around a large venue and candidates visit the stalls that are of interest to them, often collecting promotional material/business cards
- Some jobs fairs are unstructured (you can come and go as you please), whereas others feature specific activities such as presentations from NGOs or even “speed dating” where candidates are paired with recruiters at their stall for a pre-planned short time (2-5 minutes) to see if they might be a good match and then when time is up the candidate moves onto to the next stall!
How to use a job fair to get your NGO job?
Meet real people!
Job fairs are a brilliant opportunity to meet the people behind the organisational branding. You can start to gauge the culture of the NGO and whether you might fit in. Pick up clues by looking at how staff members dress and how enthusiastic they are!
Do as much online research as you can before the event. Find out:
- Which NGOs are attending?
- What sort of projects do they focus on?
- Are they local, national, or international?
Compile a shortlist of the 3 NGOs you want to prioritise speaking to first - job fairs can feel a bit hectic, so having this list will help you to focus.
Ask questions. This is a particularly useful strategy if you are introverted and don’t enjoy networking e.g.
- Which roles are you currently recruiting for?
- Do you have volunteering positions?
- What are the opportunities for career progression?
- What do you enjoy most about working for this NGO?
First impressions count, so dress smartly. This will boost your confidence and show employers that you recognise they have given up their time to be there. Face to face job fairs involve standing for an extended period of time, so wear comfortable shoes!
Bring your contact details
NGOs will be meeting hundreds of potential applicants so help them to remember you!
- Establish how they want to be contacted
- Bring printed CVs, but be prepared to email your CV if they don’t want paper copies
- Some NGOs only accept applications online
If you make a good connection with someone, ask for their direct email. Follow up with a brief email thanking them for their time – they now have your contact details and you are well on the way to getting that NGO job!