13 Ways to Rock Your Next Career Fair

Male Student Shaking Hands at Career Fair
As a college student, especially if you’re a soon-to-be graduate, putting your name out there is important when it comes to reaching your career goals and aspirations. Whether you’re interested in finding job openings or learning more about a specific industry, career fairs are a great way to network and meet with company representatives. These events can be overwhelming, but here are 13 things you can do to rock your next career fair and make the most of the experience:

Take Time to Research Employers

You can’t just waltz into a career fair and expect to wing it, but you can go in prepared. Find out which employers will be attending, and take the time to research the ones you are most interested in by looking at their company websites for job openings or other opportunities.

Create a Priority List

Once you’ve figured out which employers you plan to talk to, create a priority list. This will ensure that by the end of the career fair, you will have at least met with those at the top of your list before the event is over. Also, create a route for yourself, so that you can get around in a timely manner. You can do this by getting a map beforehand or by arriving early to take note of who is where.

Prepare an Elevator Pitch

With several other people attending the event, you may only spend a few minutes with each recruiter, so you need to introduce yourself quickly and make every second count. An elevator pitch is a quick, clear, and informative introduction of your background, skills, and experiences. Depending on who you plan to talk to, you may need to tailor your elevator pitch for each recruiter, but you should always include your name, college major, career aspirations, and why you think you’re a good fit for the company. Be sure to practice saying your elevator pitch out loud around friends or family until it sounds natural and you are comfortable saying it.

Prepare Questions

One way to extend conversation and show employers that you’re interested in their company is to ask them questions. Prepare questions about a particular position, the hiring process, and company culture. Also, feel free to ask recruiters about their own personal experience with the company. It’s possible that the recruiter may ask you questions as well, so looking up common interview questions on the internet and preparing answers to them before the event can ensure that you go into the conversation feeling confident.

Prepare a Résumé

One of the key items you should have prepared for a career fair is your résumé. If you don’t have one, don’t worry; there are plenty of resources online that can help you with creating one. Overall, your résumé should include work experience, internships, coursework, volunteer work, and projects you’ve worked on that are relevant to the company you’re handing your résumé to. It should also focus on your accomplishments and how you achieved them. As a college student, it’s likely that you don’t have much work experience, so it’s okay to keep your résumé about a page long, but keep in mind that you may have to tailor it for each company.

Pack Your Items

You won’t need to bring much to a career fair. You should bring a plain folder to carry copies of your résumé and anything you pick up at the event such as business cards, as well as paper and pen in case you need to write something down.

Mascot Holding a Suit and Tie at Bogey's Career Closet
Dress for Success

We know there seems to be a lot to prepare before a career fair, and it can be intimidating, but don’t forget to plan your outfit for the day. When it comes to meeting potential employers and networks, your appearance matters. Plan a professional outfit that you feel comfortable and confident in. Most career fairs have a business casual dress code, but if you are still unsure about what to wear, keep in mind that it’s better to be a little overdressed than underdressed. Think suits, dress pants, slacks, khakis, skirts, dresses, button-up shirts, blouses, and blazers. Don’t have any dress clothes? Bogey’s Career Closet can help!

Introduce Yourself

Your introduction is the first step to making a good impression on potential employers. Use positive body language by making eye contact and greeting recruiters with a smile. Keep your introduction concise, and use the elevator pitch you prepared, because you probably won’t have much time to talk to them when there are countless other students waiting in line.

Students Talking at Career Fair
Write Everything Down

Writing down the names of recruiters you spoke with is crucial to the steps after the career fair. You’ll likely be tired and more prone to forgetfulness after a long day of introductions, so having those names already written down somewhere will come in handy.

Stay Positive

Career fairs can be overwhelming, but try to remain positive during the experience. Even if you’re unable to spend as much time as you would have liked with a recruiter or if a conversation didn’t go the way you expected, try to remember that every experience brings you one step closer to your career aspirations.

Create a Contact Database

By the end of the day, you’ll probably have a lot of names written down as well as a lot of business cards. You should put all of these contacts in a safe place that’s easy to search through so you don’t lose them. Doing so will ensure that you can contact anyone you spoke with in the future.

Follow Up

Plan to send emails to all the recruiters you spoke to within 24 to 48 hours after the career fair. Thank them for their time, and give yourself the opportunity to remind them of who you are. Your message doesn’t need to be long, but it should be personalized to each contact. While this step may not be a requirement, students who choose to reach out will leave a good impression.

Take Action

For companies you are interested in, follow any instructions the recruiters gave you, such as applying for a position or internship online. Try to do this within a few days after the career fair, if possible, so that you’re still fresh in the recruiters’ minds. If there are no positions available at the time, consider asking the recruiter for an informational interview, because spending more time with a company can only benefit you.

Standing out at a career fair is not always easy, Bearcats, but if you have confidence, a positive attitude and the drive to succeed, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. Don’t forget to check out the Career Fair this year on Wednesday, February 16 at the Hett! The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., so dress up, give yourself a pep talk, and prepare to knock those recruiters’ socks off!