Whether you're at the career fair to gather information about possible careers, or to network with employers and alumni, it's important to be prepared and professional.
If it's your first time working the room, we have some tips that will help you get the information you need and make a good first impression.
Preparing for the career fair
- Look over the list of attending employers and target those that interest you most.
- Research your target employers ahead of time and carefully review their company websites and job listings.
- Make a list of questions you want to ask your target employers.
- Update your resume, making sure it's relevant to your target employers.
- As a rule of thumb, bring at least 10 more copies of your resume than you think you'll need. It's better to have too many than too few.
- Bring a notebook or portfolio with room to collect business cards and brochures.
- Prepare a short, professional introduction, including focused information about your experience, strengths, accomplishments, career interests and goals.
- Dress professionally.
- Arrive early, and plan extra time for parking and locating your target employers.
NETWORKING WITH EMPLOYERS AND ALUMNI
- Always shake hands, make eye contact and smile when you meet someone for the first time. Demonstrate enthusiasm, confidence and interest.
- Introduce yourself briefly and professionally, and don't forget to ask the questions you've prepared.
- Answer any questions directly, politely and concisely.
- Listen attentively, take notes if you need them, and ask for business cards and brochures from your target employers.
- Network with other students and alumni as you go; they may know of other relevant opportunities.
- If you're feeling overwhelmed, take a break. Give yourself time to get organized and return to the fair with renewed energy.
- Always thank employer representatives for their time.
If you haven't yet declared a major or chosen a career path, career fairs can be a great place to do a little research.
Before the fair, make a list of careers and fields you're considering. Then, during the fair, approach the relevant employers, introduce yourself, and tell them you're currently researching careers, and would love to know more about their company and industry.
Getting creative—when your field isn't represented at the fair
If you're interested in one career, but an employer is recruiting for another, don't let that stop you from saying hello.
Pick employers who might use your skill set, introduce yourself and ask about opportunities in your field. Ask if the representative can give you a name and contact information for someone in the relevant department.
Even if the recruiter takes a copy of your resume to pass along, make sure to follow up with the relevant department after the fair.
After the Career Fair
- Send thank you notes to representatives at your target companies. Thank them for the information, remind them how you met, and reiterate your qualifications and interest in the company.
- Follow up on interesting employment opportunities; send your resume and cover letter to the potential employer, complete an online application, request a job description or application packet, or call or email the relevant person/department to ask if someone has had a chance to review the resume you submitted at the fair.
Relax; it's not a test.
Don't forget to relax and have fun. Choosing a career and finding a job can be daunting, but it can also be exciting—learning more about your options, taking advantage of free employer giveaways and meeting new people.
So, while you're doing your research and making your connections, don't forget to smile and enjoy the process.
Need some help brainstorming your introduction, preparing your resume or coming up with employer questions? Contact our team.