For many students, a career fair can be an intimidating event to attend. There are dozens of people to meet and a sea of informational brochures to sift through. It’s difficult to know what to say, who to look for, and even what to bring! However, the easiest way to rock your next career fair is simply by being prepared for it.
Career Fairs aren’t just about trying to get a job. They offer an amazing opportunity to meet new people, learn about some awesome companies, and practice presenting your best self. Let’s get ready for the next one!
Step One: Prepare the Necessities.
Think of this group of items as your “Career Fair Survival Kit.” Pack them ahead of time so you’re ready to go.
- Several copies of your perfectly polished resume
- Multiple pens
- Notebook or padfolio to write down notes or ideas
- Business cards that represent you and your personal brand
- A professional portfolio to hold your necessities
- *Optional – an interview portfolio. You probably won’t have time to speak with anyone extensively about your past work, but just in case! Check out this post for info on what to include.
Step Two: Dress for success.
It’s important to look and feel both professional and confident. Employers and recruiters will expect you to come dressed professional – so dress for the job two steps ahead of what you want now! Check out our full guide to Career Fair attire here > What to Wear: Career Fair.
Step Three: Outline your game plan.
Before you even set foot in the career fair, do your research and come up with a specific strategy to maximize your time. What companies will be there that interest you and where will their booths be? If a particular company does not interest you, don’t spend too much time with those recruiters. On the other hand, don’t skip over a company just because you aren’t familiar. Explore as many companies as possible online before the fair, but give at least a few minutes to as many as you can once you’re there. After all, you never know what culture, opportunity, or pathway will be best for you!
Step Four: Practice your mini elevator pitch.
It’s likely that you won’t have time to share everything about yourself when you meet with a recruiter, so take the time to practice before you go. Condense your intro down to 1 minutes or less and be sure to answer these key questions:
- What is my mission?
- What are my passions?
- What are my career interests?
- Do I have any hobbies?
- What do I want to be remembered for?
Crafting a strong elevator pitch takes time, but it’s most important to be authentic. Take personal time to reflect and practice with your friends! This article and podcast episode can also provide a little extra help and assistance!
Step Five: Nail your first impression.
Focus on three things during the career fair: the energy you bring, your ability to communicate and connect with others, and the way you showcase your personality. Your resume is a great way to highlight your skills and experiences, but who you are and how you connect with other people is what really counts. Find additional tips for making a great first impression here > First Impressions, Make Them Count!
Step Six: Be curious.
One surefire way to impress a recruiter? Show genuine interest in their company! When researching everyone ahead of time, be sure to take notes regarding what interests you and form some questions to get a deeper understanding. Make a list of questions to keep with you. While speaking with a recruiter or representative, actively engage in the conversation by asking questions, making eye contact, and reacting to what they say. Really show that you are listening closely. They need to know from your conversation that you are not desperate for any job, but passionate about getting a specific position at their company. Be curious! Ask away!
Step Seven: Follow Up.
When you go back home after the career fair, the second part of networking begins: following up! If there was someone you met or a company that impressed you, reach out to them and thank them for speaking with you! To make this process easier, make sure you take notes on the companies you visited, who you spoke to (first and last name is best!), and what you spoke about during the fair. Anyone you meet at the fair could possibly cross paths with you in the future! The world is smaller than you think.
You can follow up and reconnect in a multiple of ways. Use LinkedIn to connect and take time to write a personalized message. Use email to send a succinct message with your resume attached and a professional email signature. If you are able to get a company address, you could even send a handwritten thank you card to stand out from the crowd!
Do you have any other advice for standing out at a career fair? Post a comment below and we’ll share it with our readers!