How to Benefit from a Job Fair
There are a few main reasons employers attend career fairs. They want to increase awareness of their company by distributing company literature, make contacts with candidates who may be a good fit for their company, obtain resumes for potential openings in the near future, and to fill current position openings within their company/organization. Candidates need to do all they can to make a positive first impression, and below is information to assist you in making this a valuable experience.
Preparation Before Job Fair
• Understand your goals by asking yourself why you are going and what you hope to achieve, and then begin to prepare so that these goals can be met. Do you want to gain more information about certain companies, obtain an internship, or find a full-time position?
• Obtain a list of employers attending the career fair from the Career Services webpage. After deciding what companies/organizations you may want to speak with, go to their webpage to learn more about them. You do not need to know everything about a company/organization at this point, but some knowledge of their company will help you stand out in a positive way. We encourage you not to limit your interactions with companies that have recognizable names. Please explore all your options!
• Prepare or update your resume, and then have it critiqued by Career Services; you might want to customize your resume to certain companies.
• Prepare a one-minute “commercial” about yourself. Introduce yourself, demonstrate knowledge about the company, express your sincere interest in the company, and let the recruiter know what you can offer them (e.g. related course work, activities, leadership roles, internships, relevant work experience). Make sure to also ask them some questions about their company/organization. Be aware that you might have to adjust what you say based on how busy the fair is at that time. BE FLEXIBLE!
• Obtain a nice folder, paper, and pen that you can take with you to the fair.
Day of Job Fair
• Wear professional clothes! For women this includes a skirt suit that is not too short or a pants suit. The blouse should be a neutral color and one that is not low cut. Men should wear a suit with a white dress shirt and conservative tie. Dark colors are best for suits. Make sure your shoes are shiny and not scuffed. Don’t wear too much jewelry or perfume, and make sure nails are neatly manicured. Please see the Professional Dress handout for more guidance in this area.
• Take several copies of your resume on quality paper with you, along with a nice portfolio, paper, and pen. Try to leave backpacks and other unnecessary items somewhere if at all possible. Please hang your coat if space allows.
• Nonverbal communication can speak a thousand words. When visiting companies, look professional, have a firm handshake for each recruiter, use good eye contact, stand up straight, and avoid distracting movements such as wringing your hands, rocking back and forth, or playing with your hair. Make sure to also smile! Your tone of voice should be enthusiastic, but pleasant and conversational.
• Present your “commercial” to the employer. Show them why you would be the best candidate, let them know you are knowledgeable of their company/organization through what you say and questions you ask, and answer their questions with a good response. Obtain their business card, ask them the time frame they are looking at, and also how you can follow up with them about their openings. Ask if they are the contact person for the positions.
• Take short breaks to write down important information about the companies/organizations.
After the Job Fair
• Read the information you have collected thoroughly and review notes you made.
• Follow up with companies/organizations you are interested in through e-mails, phone call, or a letter. Make sure to submit any necessary applications in a timely manner.
Sample Questions to Ask Employers
1. What advice would you offer to someone who wants to work for your company/organization?
2. What are the typical entry-level positions for which you hire?
3. What qualifications are you seeking in new employees?
4. Do you offer a training program? Could you please describe the training?
5. What would a typical day be like for a newly hired graduate?
6. What are possible career paths within your company/organization?
7. What are my chances for advancement within your company/organization?
8. How can I receive further consideration for the positions you have described?
9. When do you expect to fill the available positions?
10. Can I provide you with any additional information?