Attending a career fair is a great opportunity. It allows you to meet with people, connect, expose yourself to new businesses, and even potentially land you a job. But you want to be prepared! We’ve compiled a list to help improve your career fair experience, below!
Look Good, Feel Good
It’s true what they say, “dress for the job you want”. Especially when you’re attending a career fair. Dressing professional will show you’re serious about not only finding a job but also want to be taken seriously. So when you are deciding on attire, always dress more professionally. When you look good, you feel good and it will boost your confidence too.
Create an Elevator Pitch
Before you attend a career fair, take a few minutes to jot down your experiences and skills. You should also include any accomplishments, education, certifications etc. From this list you’ll create a “pitch”. Your pitch is how you’ll share a little bit about yourself to someone else in a direct and engaging manner. Try to get your “pitch” down to 30 – 60 seconds. Because you’ll know what you want to say, you’ll appear direct and concise, and will yield for great conversation.
Bring Your Own Stuff. You should always bring your resume to a career fair, but that’s not the only item. Things like a note pad for taking notes, a pen (or two), business cards if you have any, a reference letter, cover letter and anything else that may be beneficial to you. This allows you to be prepared and proactive for any conversations you might have.
One of the best tips about attending a job fair is to be proactive. Do your research ahead of time and check out the list of companies that will be attending (if available). Once you know WHO is going to be there, you can further look into what open jobs they have, what their company culture is like etc. By researching the companies and jobs prior, you allow yourself more time to focus on the conversations. In addition, snag a floor plan/map from the event so you can familiarize yourself with the area. This will help you be intentional with your route as you make your way through each booth.
There is nothing worse than showing up late to an event. When you’re late you focus on BEING late and miss observing everything around you. So allow yourself some cushion time. 15-30 extra minutes for potential traffic, finding parking, walking to the event, waiting in line to get in etc. When you’re early, you give yourself more free time to prep, relax, and truly enjoy the event.
Take Initiative and Ask Questions
Although career fairs can seem uncomfortable, the sooner you take initiative the better. If you arrive feeling intimidated and don’t proactively introduce yourself or visit booths, you’ll miss out on potential opportunities. So the companies you ARE interested in, approach them with confidence. And if you did prior research, you’ll have some talking points to break the ice. Once you do spark conversation, engage and ask lots of questions (and make sure you listen attentively, too).
Develop some relationships while you’re there! Talk with your peers and ask around while you’re standing in line, filling out paperwork etc. Ask what they do for work (if currently employed), where they’re from, what they are looking for and use this opportunity to network! This will make the experience more enjoyable when you have made a few connections in the process. You never know how they could help you or vice-versa in the future.
If you approach these events feeling uncomfortable or unexcited, it will show. Address the events with a low-pressure attitude, to not only get your name out there but to meet companies first-hand in a setting where you would not have been able to otherwise. Pump yourself up and get excited!
When you’re meeting with companies and making your rounds through the career fair, try to pause and take time to take notes. Whether it’s during a conversation (that you feel comfortable) or after a conversation, walk to the side to jot down some notes or information. This will allow you to refer to your notes later on without having to rely on memory. You can also fully enjoy the experience doing so. In addition to taking notes, collect business cards as often as you can. Taking notes will allow you to jot down info, but taking a card will give you all of the contact information you need in one easy sweep.
After the career fair, take some time to send follow-ups. Go through your notes/business cards that you may have gathered throughout the career fair and send out any thank you emails you find necessary. Saying “thank you for your time” or “thank you for connecting with me, I look forward to hearing back from you” are simple thoughtful ways to express your interest and show the company you care. In addition to thank-you emails, you can also connect on LinkedIn with anyone you’ve met as well.
Enjoy the Event
And if nothing else, enjoy it. Use this as a time to meet people, create relationships and get yourself out there.