When I started college, career fairs were something I had only seen on TV. However – 3 days after attending my first career fair I landed an internship that has truly launched me on my career path!
Career fairs are definitely not something to be afraid of or shy away from. With the right preparation, planning, and a little charisma – your next career fair could get you the position you need to get on track for your future career.
Here are 7 ways to make sure you are making the most out of career fairs.
Dress the Part
Chances are that your school’s career fair is happening during regular class hours, so you don’t have to walk around dressed up business professional. However, dressing a little bit nice is a good way to show that you care and have a professional appearance. Don’t go out wearing pajamas or ripped clothing, no matter if you would tend to wear that around campus typically.
Wear something simple yet comfortable that says “I am a student here, but I take my future career seriously” to the recruiters at the fair.
If you’re serious about making a good impression and networking at a career fair, you need to come prepared. Print out multiple copies of your resume and business card. Ensure that your LinkedIn profile is up to date and include a link to it on your business card.
That is how I found my current internship – I handed the recruiter at the table my business card with my LinkedIn information on it and she added me as a connection that night and then emailed me with a job recommendation that matched my qualifications.
Coming prepared with a resume and a business card is a great way to make yourself stand out and it gives your potential future employer a way to learn about you.
Walk The Entire Fair
Don’t limit yourself to the one section of 5 tables you might pass on your regular route to class. Take the time to walk through the entire fair and take a look at every company available.
When my school does their career fair, companies tend to have a poster or piece of paper on the front of their table directly saying what sort of positions they are looking to fill. Walk the entire fair, looking out for this info, and explore every possibility. Then narrow in on interesting companies and start talking.
Plan a 45 second pitch, often known as the “elevator pitch,” where you can answer the question “tell me about yourself” quickly and clearly.
Make sure that your pitch answers the following questions:
What year are you in school? What are you studying? What do you hope to do with that degree? What sort of positions are you looking for right now (internship, part-time, full-time, post-grad employment?) and in what industry? Have you heard of the company that you are talking to before/do you notice there is something about them that makes you want to work for them?
Ask About Opportunities
Finish your pitch by asking them what sort of positions they have available and what they are looking for. Stay open-minded to all the opportunities available to you, even if they weren’t exactly what you were looking for.
Don’t forget to ask about job shadow opportunities or informational interviews with people in your potential industry, as those can often lead to great networking connections and potential future employment.
RELATED: Listen to this episode of my podcast, The Quarter Life Crisis Club, on networking!
Connect on LinkedIn
Give the recruiter your business card, and if they had a position that interested you also hand them your resume. Ask them if it is okay if you connect with them on LinkedIn later, and take their business card as well.
After the fair, preferably that day or the day after, look up all of the people who you spoke with on LinkedIn and connect with them! This gives these recruiters a direct link to contact you as well as constant access to your digital resume through LinkedIn.
This connection also looks good if you were to apply for a position within that company in the future, as anyone looking you up will notice you already have a connection within the company.
If your career fair is the kind where you sit down right there and do a brief interview or apply on the spot with your resume (sometimes they do this, however it is rare) make sure to send a thank you email to the interviewer later that day.
However – if you just displayed interest in a potential position and then connected on LinkedIn, make sure you go and follow up with that recruiter regarding that position within a few days. Search on the company’s website to see if you can find the open job position to apply.
If you do apply, then reach out to the recruiter and let them know that you did and ask them to get in touch if they have any questions regarding your application, and thank them for bringing the position to your attention. This way they will keep an eye out for your specific application and your name will be in the forefront of their mind when sifting through applicants.
That’s how you can get the most out of your school’s career fair!
Have you had any success at a school career fair? Share any tips you may have in the comments below!