How to Work a Career Fair
Attending a career fair for the first time can be overwhelming, but with these helpful tips and practice, you will be ready to take full advantage of the opportunity.
Having realistic expectations about a career fair is necessary for getting the most out of the event
- Employers expect you to be prepared (have a polished resume, dress professionally, research the companies in advance, etc.).
- You have less than 60 seconds to make a positive first impression on the recruiter.
- Your goal should be to secure an interview—not a job offer. Most recruiters are not prepared or even authorized to hire a candidate on-the-spot.
- Don’t be alarmed if the recruiter recommends or even requires you to apply on their website. In some cases, they may not even take a paper copy of your resume. They are not blowing you off; it is simply their company’s policy.
- Prepare a well-written resume.
- Get your resume reviewed by a career counselor.
- Identify your target employers that you know you want to visit, and research them.
- Use a briefcase or binder to organize your resumes and cover letters—you will want to tailor them to specific companies that you know you want to consider.
- Create a list of questions to ask employers.
- Decide what you will wear at least a week in advance, so you will know if you need to go shopping or have something cleaned.
Take a deep breath
- Bring your student ID to check-in at the fair.
- Plan your course of action by reviewing the map of employer locations.
- Maintain your professionalism while walking through the aisles. Recruiters are forming their opinions before you arrive at their booth.
- Be cognizant of the speed, tone, and volume of your speech.
- Deliver your elevator pitch with confidence and offer a copy of your resume.
- Thank the recruiter for their time.
- Stay organized during the fair. Jot down recruiter names, impressions, follow-up instructions, etc.
- Don’t collect more employer giveaways than you can hold in one hand.
Follow-up is a must
- Give yourself the competitive edge by sending a thank you email that evening to the recruiters from your target companies.
- Continue to nurture your network.
- Comply with their application instructions.
- Be persistent. Within a reasonable amount of time, it is okay to send an email or call to inquire about the status of your application.
After you draft your resume, have it reviewed by a career counselor.