Preparing for Career Fairs
A career fair is a wonderful opportunity to meet with several employers in an informal setting.
Employers come to career fairs prepared to discuss job opportunities and to provide information about their organizations. They hope to find qualified candidates for both career and internship positions.
Career fairs provide you the opportunity to shop around and make contact with organizations that may provide the right employment opportunity for you.
Prior to the Fair
Define your goals. What do you hope to get out of this event? (e.g., find career jobs or internships, seek information about specific organizations, make initial contact/begin networking).
Bring several copies of your resume.
Research employers before the career fair. Glassdoor and Linkedin are great resources for this. Make a list and visit only the employers you are interested in. It will save you time and improve the quality of your interactions.
Be prepared to answer questions from employers regarding your career goals and interest in their organizations.
Prepare a self-introduction and a list of questions. Practice your handshake. Think about what you want to say to employers and how you can “sell” yourself in approximately 3-5 minutes.
Prepare questions to ask the employer.
Dress appropriately. Remember that first impressions count!
At the Career Fair
Allow yourself adequate time. Typically, fairs are less crowded in the early hours and are busiest during the lunch hour. Don’t wait until the end. Employers may need to leave early.
Prioritize the employers you are most interested in. When you arrive, you will normally receive a map and directory for the fair. If you have done prior research before the fair, you only need to locate your preferred employers’ tables on the map. If you have not done prior research, you may want to take a few minutes and circle the employers you are most interested in meeting.
Introduce yourself, establish eye contact and present a firm handshake.
Take the lead in your conversation and prepare to discuss your skills, interests, background and career goals.
Get a business card before you leave. After discussion with the representative, if you are interested in this organization, send a follow-up letter and resume mentioning your meeting at the career fair.
Know when it is time to move on. Remember, there may be others waiting to talk to the representative so demonstrate sensitivity by keeping your questions brief.
After the Fair
Make notes about the organizations that interest you.
Follow up with thank-you letters to recruiters that are of particular interest to you. Enclose another resume for their review and express your interest in pursuing a job interview.
Set up a system to keep track of follow-up activities.