There is no other time in your life that you will be afforded the great opportunity to network with major companies in your field. Is it scary? Absolutely. Will you dread it? Certainly. Is it worth it? DEFINITELY.
Your best defense against nerves is to simply prepare yourself. A memorable interaction with a representative from your favorite company could be all you need to solidify an interview. Make sure you follow these tips before, during and after your career fair:
- RESEARCH – Find out which companies will be attending your career fair. Do any stand out to you? Research each company and learn about what they do. Write out questions that you’d like to ask about the companies. Then, do some digging around to figure out what kind of entry level positions would be best suited for your background, major, and interests. What skills are required for each? You’ll want to take note of this so you can focus on key talking points during your introduction with each recruiter.
- PRACTICE – Get together with a friend that’s also attending the career fair. Take turns asking sample interview questions and answering them. Then, get as comfortable as possible with explaining who you are, what you want to do, and why you’d be great for the position/company in question.
- RESUME RE-DO – If you have limited work experience, your extracurricular activities, academic achievements, technical background, and internships will make a world of difference on your resume. Now that you know the types of positions you are aiming for, focus on the strengths that will be necessary for your success in that career.
- DRESS TO IMPRESS – If you want to be a business professional, you need to look the part. Guys, pick out dress pants, a button down shirt, and tie. Ladies, dress pants or a pencil skirt with a blouse and blazer/sweater will do the trick. You may feel silly, but first impressions are sometimes all you get! Need some quick insights? Check out our post on all things Business Casual.
- BE PREPARED: Make sure you collect all of the items you need to bring with you to the fair ahead of time. I recommend a pen, your questions (from #1), a padfolio or pad and folder, and at least a dozen resumes. For the creatives out there, a portfolio is a great way of showing what kind of work you are capable of. If you’re looking for that extra something to make you stand out, have some business cards printed. Try something colorful or creative – anything that will make you more memorable (in a positive way) is ideal when networking.
Now you’re ready to go!
- ARRIVE EARLY – Scope out the set up and make a plan for what company you would like to speak with first. Map out a loop, stopping at each company you were planning on talking to so that you don’t end up running back and forth all over the venue.
- ASK QUESTIONS – Remember those questions you wrote out before the event? Now is the time to ask them – be sure to take notes on the answers and make as much eye contact as possible! You want the recruiter to know you are paying attention and that you really care about what they have to say. They will want to know that you aren’t interested in just ANY job, but THE job at THEIR company.
- COLLECT CONTACTS – Before walking away from a booth, be sure to ask about next steps, get the recruiter’s contact information, and sincerely thank them for their time.
You’re almost there!
- THANK YOU NOTES – Send personal thank you emails to all of the contacts you met at the fair. Discuss particulars about your conversations (refer to your notes – handy, huh?) and emphasize how much and why you’d love to work for their company. Again, the more memorable you are, the better.
- CONNECT ON LINKEDIN – Another way to keep in touch with your connections is to network via LinkedIn. If you can find them, send a request to connect. Bonus – you’ll see every time they announce a new job opening! Check out our handy-dandy guide for Getting Started on LinkedIn.
- FOLLOW UP – Depending on what the recruiter says or does not say to you after your fair, you’ll want to follow up in one way or another. A safe rule of thumb is if you do something that requires a response from them and you haven’t heard anything in 2 weeks – follow up. Be persistent but give them time to get back to you.
That’s it – you’re on your way to the amazing career you’ve always dreamed of! Be sure to check your college’s career services website often for information on career fairs, resume and interview workshops, and more helpful events.
Are there any tips we missed? Questions left unanswered? Leave a comment below or tweet us @BNcollege!