A career fair is a place where employers and job seekers can come together to talk about internship and job opportunities. A fair consists of employers at individual tables, staffed by human resource professionals who focus on recruiting, employees of different divisions, and, often, university alumni who are working there. Employers can speak about positions they are currently recruiting for, the application and interview process, and answer broader questions about the company. Below are a few tips from the Starr Career Development Center (SCDC) to help you make the most of a career fair.
Prepare a 30 second introduction or Personal Pitch highlighting your background, career objective, experiences, and strengths. Practice your personal pitch beforehand!
Obtain business attire. Don’t wait until the last minute! Buy or borrow a business suit: Blue or gray skirt suit with simple white/cream blouse for women; black or blue or charcoal grey suit with white shirt and conservative tie for men.
Know about your major and desired industry. Be prepared to talk about what you know about your major and chosen industry and why you chose them.
Research companies in advance! Be prepared to talk about what you have learned about their services, programs, and current status. Be prepared to talk about why you want to work for this specific company! Prepare for two to three open-ended questions. Check out their website, social media pages, Starr Search for current openings and Vault.com (access via Starr Search) for industry trends.
Have your resume reviewed someone in your field or a staff member at the SCDC!
Wear business attire: In addition to wearing a suit, wear appropriate but comfortable shoes. Check your appearance for neatness. No excessive jewelry, accessories, fragrances or odors.
Bring several polished and spell-checked resumes. Carry them in a professional looking folder and keep the folder handy to readily access your resume. Have they been reviewed in advance?
Create a great first impression by introducing yourself with a firm handshake, good eye contact and a smile. Don’t get discouraged if a recruiter does not engage you in long conversation. Inquire about the type of positions for which employers are hiring. Inform them of your interest and goals. First collect employer’s literature and read while in line.
Leave a strong impression by asking relevant questions that show your enthusiasm for and knowledge about the company, position and industry. Do not ask questions about salary/benefits.
Obtain a business card from all employers you meet. This is a great way to develop your own personal network of contacts.
Do not sell yourself short. All sorts of interests, backgrounds, majors and experiences impress employers. Project confidence.
Take notes on your impressions and organize them along with company literature, and business cards.
Follow up by sending THANK YOU emails. Remember, the employer met many people, so try to reference something specific in your conversation to jog his/her memory about you. If you ask a question and don’t hear back, it is appropriate to send a follow-up email after two weeks. Even if you don’t receive a response, sending a thank you message is an important part of your interaction.