Prepare for the Career Fair


Employers use career fairs to promote their opportunities and to pre screen applicants. Career fairs usually consist of booths and/or tables manned by recruiters and other representatives from each organization. An employer’s display area could be as simple as a table with a stack of information or as elaborate as a multimedia extravaganza with interactive displays, videos, posters and a team of recruiters.

Career Fairs are networking events that allow students the opportunity to meet potential employers. Each employer you meet can eventually lead to a job. The trick is being genuine, respectful and making a positive lasting impression through follow up efforts. Remember, students are unique and so are employers. You never know what a given employer might be looking for, so just be yourself and remain professional.

The employers are here for you. Take the time to:

  • Research the organizations attending the fair
  • Approach the employers in which you are interested
  • Introduce yourself and tell them what you like about their compan
  • Make contacts that you can follow up with during your job search

A Successful Career Fair Has 3 Parts:

Before the Fair

During the Fair

After the Fair

Before the Career Fair: Preparation

Visit the Career Fairs link off of this website to see which employers will be attending the Career Fair.

Get Your Materials Together

  • Create your portfolio
  • Update your resume and bring 30 copies nicely printed on resume paper
  • Make sure your clothes are cleaned and ironed
  • Leave the backpack at home! You rarely see professionals carrying a dirty oversized backpack around.

A Note on Your Resume…

  • Please, for your sake, meet with someone in Career Services
  • Use Optimal Resume
  • Proofread, Proofread, Proofread
  • After proofreading, have someone else proofread for you

Clarify your Goals

Ask yourself the following questions:

Why are you going to the Fair?

  • Are you looking for an internship or full-time position?
  • Looking to network with recruiters?

What are you hoping to accomplish?

  • Get a feel for what companies and industries you want to pursue
  • Get business cards from the recruiters you speak with

Set Criteria: Questions to ask yourself

  • What industries am I interested in?
  • Where am I willing to work geographically?
  • What values am I looking for in a company?
  • What companies am I excited about?

Remember to not be too specific (Software companies in Talisayan Albuera Leyte, Philippines) or too general (a big company in the United States).

Select companies and prioritize

Who would you…

  • Absolutely Have to Meet?
  • Want to Meet?
  • Be willing to meet?

Do your homework

  • Read up on your company’s news
  • Review history
  • Review company’s values and mission
  • Look at information relevant to your major/desired position

Prepare Your Personal Commercial
This is a professional, enthusiastic and comprehensive introduction of you:

  • Initiate contact, firm handshake, smile
  • Name, major, year
  • State why you are interested in the company
  • Write out an outline of what you want to include
  • Practice with yourself in front of a mirror or with your friend
  • Be prepared to talk about the company
  • Be prepared to ask and answer questions

Summarize into a plan

Take your goals, your companies and your personal commercial and summarize your plan that includes:

  • What you are there to accomplish
  • A priority list of your companies (with notes)
  • An outline of your commercial

BRING THE PLAN WITH YOU: Refer to the plan during the Career Fair to keep you on track

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During the Fair: Execution

Dress Professionally
Generally, the appropriate attire for career fair attendees is business casual or business professional (depending on your field/industry). If you’re unsure of the dress code (particularly for off campus events), it would be wise to error on the overdressed side—you’ll make a better impression if you appear professional. Think of it like a dress rehearsal for a real interview.

Some tips on dressing:

  • Wear clean and pressed clothes
  • Look presentable (nice haircut/freshly shaven)
  • When in doubt, go conservative
  • Use a portfolio—not a backpack

Strategize and Break the Ice:

  • If a map is available, get one of the room and learn where companies are located
  • Take your plan and create an order of attack (be conscious of time and long lines)
  • Approach a low priority company first to practice your commercial

Keep your eyes and ears open—there’s nothing wrong with eavesdropping on the questions asked and answers received by your fellow career fair attendees. You might pick up some valuable information!

In order to maximize your career fair experience, you must be an active participant and not just a browser. If all you do is stroll around, take company literature and load up on the ever-present freebies, you haven’t accomplished anything worthwhile (unless you’re a collector of key chains, mouse pads, and pocket flashlights). It is essential to chat with the company representatives and ask meaningful questions.

Speaking with Employers

How to approach and end conversations:

  • Initiate conversation and have a firm handshake
  • Show enthusiasm by smiling and speaking clearly
  • Be as clear and direct as possible
  • Make sure to review notes and info before starting a conversation
  • End conversation with a thank you

What you need to accomplish:

  • Make a great first impression
  • Inquire about possible roles that fit your needs
  • Ask if they are taking resumes or interviewing on campus
  • Discuss the steps for applying and their hiring process
  • Ask for a business card for later follow up

Taking notes

  • At the end of the job fair take some notes on each company and recruiter
  • Write the date and place where you met people on the back of their business cards
  • If you take notes after you meet someone, make sure you are discrete

General Tips

  • Pick up company info as well as giveaways
  • When accepting business cards don’t put them away until you have walked away
  • Stay positive and enthusiastic
  • Have fun with it.   Remain relaxed and confident

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After the fair: Follow Through

Immediate follow through

  • Make sure to take legible notes
  • Send thank you emails to all employers to whom you spoke
  • Follow through on submitting any information that you promised

In the next few weeks

  • Review your goals and company selection criteria
  • Re-prioritize the companies for which you would most like to work
  • Create a method for managing and recording your follow up (e.g. an Excel spreadsheet of contacts)
  • Do research on the companies you have selected to pursue

Long term Follow through

  • Research when your companies will be back on campus
  • Keep up on your company’s latest news and shoot an email to your contacts when you hear positive news
  • Maintain contact information: emails, letters, phone calls
  • Set up informational interviews with representatives from companies in which you are interested
  • Always keep the hiring process in mind

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