How to Handle a Job Fair
Job fairs can be a difficult experience; a room filled with strangers is not particularly inviting. However these tips can help structure your thoughts and focus what you need to think about.
Find out a bit about what organizations or companies will be present. Determine what companies you would be interested in talking to. Identify what they offer as product and services; especially look for what they want in an employee, what their mission is and the various divisions of their company.
Before the Fair
What to Bring
Update your resume with the CEC and make more copies than you are expecting to hand out, you never know when you will come across a company that you didn’t know about before. Bring a pen, paper, and a folder to keep everything organized. Create and practice a 30 second introduction speech to highlight skills and experiences relevant to the employer. Be prepared to ask thoughtful questions on each company specifically. Be prepared to answer “why are you interested in our company?” Don’t forget to relax, be patient, and have a sense of humor.
What to Wear
Be conscious of what you wear and the impressions that it will give the representatives of the company. If you are attending the fair for full time jobs or internships, it may be prudent to wear professional business attire. However if you are attending to explore possible careers, looking at nonprofit organizations, or comparing graduate schools business casual may be appropriate. Just remember that you are dressing for the job you want as well as to make a good first impression. More information about Professional Attire can be found here.
During the Fair
Arrive early and sign in at the registration table, be sure to take information. Take time to walk around and find employers you would like to speak to.
Approach the employer, if they are busy wait at an appropriate distance until they are available or go and speak with another employer until they are ready. Make eye contact and smile as you extend your hand.
Shake hands. Introduce yourself and ask for their name. Give your 30 second introduction speech. Be sure to add why you are at the career fair. Be sure to repeat the recruiter’s name throughout your conversation to show that you actually care about the company.
Keep the Conversation Going
Begin by mentioning that you already know a bit about the company. Ask thoughtful questions about the company to further your understanding. Don’t ask broad general questions like “tell me a bit about your company” these will leave the burden on the recruiter and leave them frustrated. Inquire about opportunities for new graduates that have your major. If you find that you are interested in working for the organization, ask about the application process. Be aware of your surroundings, if there is a long line of other students wanting to speak with the recruiter; do not take up all of their time.
Offer a hard copy of your resume; do not be offended if they direct you to an online application. Ask for a business card or company information. Mention what actions you will take i.e. submitting an application, visiting the company itself. Thank the recruiter and be sure to acknowledge by name.