Cameron Shoaee, E.I.T.
To some, the thought of attending a career fair is a dreaded task. It always seems to fall in line with the time you have two tests to prepare for, a project due, and when you need to prepare for the rest of the responsibilities that come with being a college student. I have compiled a few simple guidelines to follow that will prepare you to land the dream job you’ve always wanted.
The key to having an enjoyable and successful career fair experience starts before you step foot in the door. Doing the required research a night or two before the career fair will set you up for success while speaking with recruiters. Once at the career fair, following a few simple steps will help you to stand out among your peers. Finally, closing with a few follow up items will persuade the recruiters to choose you over other candidates.
Leading up to the big day, take some time to prepare yourself. Go through the list of companies attending your school’s fair, and decide which ones you are going to pursue for employment. Start by determining what they do and how they operate. Learn about their values, company culture, and activities and charity events they participate in. Make sure they are a good fit for you and that your values align with theirs. Once you have drafted a list, determine your top potential employers and create a plan of action. Plan to visit the companies in order based on your interest in obtaining a job with them. As intuitive as it may seem, the next step is to update your resume with your most recent achievements. Utilize any workshops your school may have on writing a resume. Many times, they will set up mock interviews where industry professionals can review your resume. Create and study a list of questions for recruiters at each company you plan on speaking with. Additionally, try to think of any questions you may be asked while at the career fair and answers to those questions. You are likely going to have classes that lie within the time-frame you will be at the career fair so prepare accordingly for missing those classes. Lastly, if online resume submittal is an option with any of the companies on your list, submit your resume online ahead of time. The recruiters may ask you to submit a resume online and you will show preparedness and interest if you can say you’ve submitted yours in advance.
Now that you have taken the necessary steps to prepare for the career fair, you are ready for the big day. You should aim to start your day off with a clear mind. The test or project coming up will still be due after the career fair, so try not to let those tasks distract you. After all, the reason for your studying in the first place is to land the job you want, and here is your perfect opportunity. Dress as if you were going to an interview, and stick with a classic style that most people will appreciate. I suggest arriving at the location when the doors open. Remember to go to companies you are most interested in first as you’ll likely get fatigued as the day goes on. Have your resumes handy and begin talking to recruiters. The key is to put yourself in their shoes. If you were talking to hundreds of potential employees a day, what would you like to see and hear? A charismatic and positive attitude is always a good way to start your conversation. Walk to the booth with purpose, have a confident demeanor, and introduce yourself. Tell the recruiter how excited you are to be there and that you are interested in their company. If the recruiter is taking resumes, ask them if you can give them yours before handing it over. Ask the questions you prepared and studied the night before. Most of all, try to have fun with the experience. Approaching the day with this attitude will make the task less of a job and a more pleasurable experience overall. Being enthusiastic is increasingly important as the day goes on because the recruiters have met many potential employees throughout the day, and your enthusiasm will be a breath of fresh air to them. End each conversation by telling him/her that you hope to hear from them soon. Work your way down the list following these guidelines and you will be done before you know it.
The big day is over, but your journey to pursue the job you’re after is not. Following the career fair, email any recruiters you received business cards or contact information from and thank him/her for taking the time to meet with you. If recruiters recommended any changes to your resume, be sure to update accordingly. Check your email on a regular basis for invitations to meet for an interview. Don’t forget to check your junk mail for anything that may have gotten misfiled. The last step is to prepare for interviews. You can usually follow most of the guidelines you followed leading up to the career fair. Brush up on your knowledge of each company, and make sure to read our blog on “How to Ace Your Interview” to ensure success!
After it is all over, take some time to reflect on your experience. Be honest with yourself and determine what you did well and which aspects you need a little work on. We all have strengths and weaknesses so play off your strengths and do your best to improve the areas you need some work on. These skills will carry on throughout your professional career and continue to help you grow. With all this information under your belt, you are sure to have success in finding the job you are after. We hope to see you at the next career fair!