Career fairs are one of my favorite parts of recruiting. They are full of excitement and energy, and I get to meet a variety of people (and hopefully the next great member of our team). But for job seekers, career fairs can be hard to navigate because you have to filter through countless opportunities to make one into something real. This may seem like a daunting task; however, following these few steps can help you navigate the event with success:
Research the companies attending, their openings, and if they love something that interests you. Start by researching a company’s About Us and Employment pages, Google them to find more, talk to friends and family who have worked/interned there, and see if this is really somewhere you want to be.
Doing your homework takes time, so be selective on which company representative you visit and why. Narrow your list to companies you definitely want to visit and potential companies to visit if you have extra time. It’s better to pick a few places, research them thoroughly, and make a great impression rather than visiting everyone and not make an impression at all.
Before distributing your resume and cover letter, have someone edit them. Having a clean, typo-free resume and cover letter communicates that you are detail-oriented. Make sure you have enough copies for every booth you visit- running out communicates that you are not a planner. Companies may just direct you to apply through their career center. Don’t be discouraged; at least you were prepared. Just make a note of what was said and follow through.
Because time is of the essence, be aware that you are not the only person in the room. If a line begins to form behind you, use the chance to ask for a business card and if it is okay to follow up with questions. Then email a thank you note and ask additional questions.
Be memorable for the right reasons
Shake the recruiter’s hand and properly introduce yourself. Tell them why you are interested in their company, a little bit about what you are studying, reference an opening that interests you, etc. Ask about their application process and if they would like a copy of your resume. You don’t want to be remembered for the wrong reasons, like the following that I’ve experienced:
- Monopolize a recruiter’s time, especially if there is a line behind you
- Talk about things that are not job related (your feet hurt, you have a test on Friday, your printer is broke, you don’t have any resumes left, how nervous you are, you do not remember anything about the company, etc.)
- Stick a piece of candy in your mouth just as you introduce yourself. There is nothing good about that; just save it for later.
- Ask a recruiter to tell you about their company- if you did your homework, you don’t have to ask. Remember, they already have jobs. Instead, have questions prepared for them.
Career fairs are exciting and enjoyable when you are prepared, know what to expect, and have a plan. Just like studying for a final exam- the more you prepare, the more successful you will be.