The annual job fair of the Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency (CINDE) kicks off Friday, and recruiters from 57 companies will be on the look to fill out 2,700 available posts. The Tico Times asked CINDE officials and company representatives for the inside track: tips and strategies to stand out from the crowd and land a job.
One point of consensus: job seekers must carefully prepare before attending the event.
The first step is to register online at the fair’s website. The online platform will ask for personal data, education achievements and work experience. The registration system also allows applicants to test their English or Portuguese proficiency against international standards.
CINDE Communications Director Andrea Centeno told The Tico Times that it is imperative to pay attention when filling out the application. That includes avoiding spelling errors, providing updated information, “and very important: don’t lie about your academic credentials, and don’t over-inflate your job experience,” she said.
Registering is not enough
Registration prior to the fair is mandatory. Entrance is free, but is limited those who have completed the online registration.
After completing the registration process the system will generate a Quick Response (QR) Code, which candidates will need to show to enter the fair and to share their information with recruiters. Applicants can either print out the code or show it from their smartphones.
Registration does not guarantee that participating companies will have access to applicants’ data.
“It is imperative to attend the fair at any of the three available days,” Centeno stressed.
Recruiters will not be accepting printed résumés or digital files from flashdrives. Rather, when a candidate visits a company’s stand, the company representative will download that person’s information by scanning his or her QR code, which is only valid during the fair.
Those who have attended previous editions of the fair can simply enter the website using the email address and the identification number they used to register before. They can then update their profiles and get a new QR code.
Making a good impression
CINDE’s Centeno and Robert Gifford, Tech Support Director of CITRIX, one of the participating companies, said job seekers should also do their homework before attending. They outlined various recommendations.
- Make the most of your time. Read the company profiles included on the fair website so you can see which companies have posts suitable for you and make a plan of attack for your day at the fair. This prioritization is key: besides receiving applications, many companies also will conduct interviews and evaluations of the candidates. Therefore, time will be of the essence.
- Be knowledgeable about the companies you approach. The other reason to study the companies in advance is to be ready for interviews. “Showing knowledge about a company also will leave a good impression on recruiters,” Gifford said. Recruiters will get a negative impression of a person who approaches a stand and asks questions such as, What does this company do? or What kind of posts are available? “Never do that,” Gifford and Centeno agree
- Be ready to showcase your language skills. Companies looking for people with a good command of languages not tested in the online registration will be evaluating candidates’ fluency at the fair. Besides English and Portuguese, recruiters will be looking for people with a good command of French, German, Mandarin and others.
During the fair
Facing the interview. Applicants must be assertive and confident. Gifford said that one of the main problems during interviews is that candidates get too nervous, and that can hurt their chances, “especially if the interview is not conducted on their native language.”
Language practice. Various language learning companies will have stands at the fair; people can take the opportunity to “warm up” and get feedback before the interviews, she said.
Wear comfortable — not informal — clothing. There is not a dress code for attending the fair, but people should avoid extremes. “Wearing a suit and tie is not necessary, but don’t be too casual. Business casual is the recommended,” Centeno said.
Appropriate attitude. Centeno says job seekers should face the interview with a very confident but respectful attitude. Gifford added that recruiters are hoping for candidates who are proactive and versatile, showing an ability to learn and adapt to their requirements.
Ask for feedback. Centeno says that it is an excellent idea to ask recruiters for feedback following the interview. “How did I do?” or “Do you have any advice for me to improve my performance at an interview?” are some of the questions that can help a jobseeker improve his skills. This proactive approach will also also leave a good impression on companies, she said.
One step. Centeno noted that the fair allows jobseekers to move forward with the first steps of a recruitment process. They should be patient and not be discouraged if they don’t get a call or an email in the following days. Gifford added that “hiring the right person is a process that can take weeks or even months.”
Are there chances for expats and experienced candidates? Yes. Both Centeno and Gifford said they know many of the companies will offer job opportunities for foreign citizens, as long as they are in Costa Rica under a legal migratory status.
Age is not an issue; many companies offer posts for people who comply with their requirements, regardless of their age, Centeno said.
Options are available for professionals and people with technical degrees in diverse sectors, including business administration, computer networks, software development, technical support, graphic design, accounting, human resources, logistics, quality control, advertising, marketing, occupational safety and others.
Companies will also offer posts for engineers with specialties in production, electricity, electronics, electromechanics, mechatronics, and materials.
The XXIII Multilingual CINDE Job Fair will take place Feb. 17-19 at the Antigua Aduana, east of downtown San José.