As with any course or summer job, having a purpose behind your participation results in a more profitable experience. Career Fairs can prove to be excellent networking opportunities if you prepare in advance.
Before the Career Fair
What do I want to get out of this event? Knowing your goals at the outset will help you target your questions.
- Company information?
- Better understanding of positions?
- Job opportunities?
What do I need to bring? Have your materials easily accessible. You don't want to fumble to get them out!
- Carry a folder or portfolio with at least 10 copies of your resume.
- Prepare questions in advance that will help you gather the necessary information to answer the first question above.
- Optional: You may want to include a transcript, a list of references, a portfolio of written materials or other job-specific information.
How should I prepare?
- Study the list of participating organizations – who do you want to see?
- Prioritize your list
- Target your efforts – to whom do you want to speak in the morning, in the afternoon, etc. Think about your energy levels. Will the information gathered from one organization help in your presentation to the next?
- Research the organizations. Check the employer files, Hoover's Handbook (business section of the CDC Library), Fortune Magazines, and the internet
- Prepare a list of questions for each general industry in which you are interested. Target your questions accordingly. What is this organization looking for in an ideal candidate?
- Prepare a 2-3 minute commercial of yourself
- Who am I?
- Why am I interested in this organization?
- What knowledge, experiences and skills can I offer?
- Demonstrate what you know about the organization.
- Practice your approach in the mirror, with friends, and then test it out on a company at the fair. Rework it if necessary.
During the Career Fair
- Show enthusiasm!
- Have a firm handshake
- Maintain eye contact
- Remember that body language can often speak louder than words
- Speak clearly
- Listen carefully to what the representative has to say
- Show confidence through your voice
- Present your resume
- Ask for a business card before leaving
- Ask how the organization would like you to proceed from here
- Are you speaking to the appropriate contact for your area of interest?
After the Career Fair
- Write a targeted thank you within 48 hours of the fair
- Reiterate your interest and why you are a good candidate
- Enclose another copy of your resume