Planning on attending a career fair soon? Here are a few tips to make the most of it, and ensure that you make the impression you want!
Do your homework Nail down your objectives for your day. You’re looking for a job. Having your priorities straight will give you some focus as you wander around the vast hallways of never-ending career fair booths with heaps of giveaways and demos.
Scope out who is going to be in attendance - and look up the ones that you’re interested in. Make a list of the companies that you know you want to visit at the career fair, and be able to articulate why these companies intrigue you. Be familiar with the job postings for each company, and identify how you are a great match for the positions.
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Come prepared Bring a stack of resumes, and get your elevator pitch straight. Sound cheesy? You have less than five seconds to impress someone, so being effective in the most efficient way possible is the name of the game here. Know what you want to say, and why a recruiter should bother to listen. Be self aware and know what you bring to the table. Draw the lines between your strengths and the positions they are looking to fill - help them see that you’d be the perfect candidate. Companies hear from hundreds of students, so be compelling and matter of fact.
Be sure to find your target companies first, but don’t limit yourself to your list either - career fairs are a great way to get to know new companies doing incredible things.
Have some sensible questions Ask questions that demonstrate that you’ve done your homework. Do you see any foreseeable challenges within the industry that might have an impact? Where is the company headed, strategy-wise? Don’t be afraid to ask for advice - are there industry resources that might be helpful to be familiar with? Should you be focusing on certain skill sets over others? You have access to company insiders at career fairs, so take advantage!
However, be mindful of others Though you are brilliantly engaging and are now BFFs with Company X, be aware that others may also want to chat. Be considerate and let others have their say as well. It's ok to be aggressive, but being overbearing is less ok. Actually, it's just not ok, so don't do it.
Follow up!! Don’t forget to exchange contact information and FOLLOW UP. Simply dropping a resume doesn’t fully leverage the relationships you have built with a company representative or recruiter, so be sure to follow up with any contacts that you made. A short email thanking the person for their time and letting them know that you enjoyed meeting them shows that you are diligent and serious about any opportunities that come your way.
Get excited! Career fairs can be overwhelming and stressful, but go in ready to learn. Each time you pitch yourself, it gets easier, and remember: companies come to campus explicitly to meet students. They are eager to get to know you - it’s up to you to step up to the plate and show your best side. Good luck!