Career fairs and job fairs are a strong way to expose yourself and connect to possible future employers, regardless of whether you have one job or several under your belt. Not only that, but it’s a very effective and direct way of networking and connecting to managers and recruiters from a large variety of companies.
However, taking the right steps before, during, and after career fairs is essential so you can stick out in the crowd and find major opportunities with companies.
If you want to make a stronger impact at your next career fair, try these tips for success.
Before the Career Fair
Take the following steps to prepare for your upcoming career fair:
1. Pre-register (if possible)
Whether it involves sending in your resume or submitting other information about yourself, it’s a good idea to pre-register for the career fair you’re attending if it’s an option. This can be helpful as some companies look over this information before the event starts, which can give them a better understanding of who you are.
2. Research the Companies Attending the Event
Compile some background information on the different companies that will at the career fair, especially those that interest you. Bringing this research with you can help you come up with questions you can ask those companies, which shows them a lot about your enthusiasm and interest in what they do.
3. Figure Out Which Companies You’ll Talk to
Once you’ve finished your research on companies, you’ll need to figure out who you’ll be talking to at the career fair. After all, you only have a limited amount to time to talk and network with organizations and companies – you need to use every second wisely.
Try to get a layout of the building and where each company is so you know where exactly you need to go. You can save yourself a lot of time and get to all the employers you’re interested in seeing.
4. Update and Bring Copies of Your Resume
Make sure your resume is up-to-date with all of your work experiences, and that it is professionally written and free of any errors. Also make sure to have a different resume for each type of job you’re looking for, if you plan on looking at several different jobs in this fair.
Before the career fair, make sure to print out plenty of copies. Don’t hesitate to print a lot of copies, since companies will sometimes want more than one. Plus, you can save the leftover copies for future fairs.
5. Craft an Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is a 30-second to 60-second presentation where you talk about yourself, your skills, and the objectives you have for your career. It’s very easy to understate the importance of a good elevator pitch – crafting and practicing one is an essential piece for all of the career fairs you’ll attend.
You’ll get at better it with more experience, but having a good elevator pitch will definitely get employers invested in who you are and what you can do.
6. Plan Out Responses for Interview-Style Questions
Practicing your responses for questions asked by employers or representatives is an essential factor in networking at the career fair. Try practicing with these common interview-style questions and write down your answers.
After going through them enough times, you won’t have to worry about your nerves at the fair, and you’ll be able to look professional when responding to questions.
On the Day of the Career Fair
On the day of the career fair, make sure to wear appropriate clothing and to show up as early as you can. Also, use the following tips so you can make a strong impression at the fair and use your time well:
7. Confidence Is Key
When walking up to company representatives, be sure to stay calm and introduce yourself with confidence. Smile and shake their hand – it’s important to make a good impression on them. Remember, they’re here to meet potential hires and find new people for their companies.
Be prepared to give them your elevator pitch, which we’ve discussed earlier, when the time is right. If you’re like me and are still studying at a university, be sure to go into detail about these things:
- Academic career: bring up the relevant courses you’ve taken as well as any major projects you’ve done in these classes
- Extracurricular : let them know about the other interests you’ve explored while on campus, since they can help give a better idea about the kind of person you are
- Career interests: pretty self-explanatory, but it is essential to talk about the kind of careers or career paths you’re interested in
8. Be Sure to Take Notes
While you don’t have to do it for everything, there are definitely some things you should be writing down while you’re talking to companies at the career fair. In particular, you should take notes when talking to representatives about the next steps, as well as any chances for reaching out to other managers of the company.
Also make sure to write down any important names, phone numbers, and other information about staff in the company or organization. This will be helpful so you can reach out to them later.
9. Ask Representatives for Business Cards
After talking with representatives for the companies you’re interested in, ask them for a business card. Business cards have all the information you’ll need so you can contact the representative in the future. This is certainly beneficial, since you can reach out to this person for other questions or even send a thank you note for their time.
Take advantage of these opportunities to leave a lasting, positive impression on the people you talked to at the fair.
10. Networking Is Also Key!
While you’re at that the career fair, you should definitely make time to other people looking for jobs at the fair. Expanding your professional network can help you gain insight on companies and job opportunities, so be sure to get the LinkedIn of other people you meet.
Additionally, you should go up to any professional organizations you find so you can get some helpful info on future opportunities to broaden your network.
After the Career Fair
Congrats on making it through! Hopefully, you made the most of your time at the career fair and got some promising opportunities out of it. Either way, here are some things you should take care of after the fair is over:
11. Follow Up With Representatives
Like I brought up earlier, it’s important to follow up with representatives as soon as you can after the fair is over. Look over your interests and qualifications for the jobs you looked at, along with the contact information you have for all the representatives you talked to.
Send out some emails to these people and let them know your interests and qualifications for the job, and be sure to attach a copy of your resume. Also, you should send a note thanking them for their time, and let them know your interests to follow up in the future (with a phone call, etc.).
12. Don’t Stop Networking
Lastly, you should contact the other job seekers you met at the fair and talk about both your experiences and theirs. Let them know you’ll reach out to them if you see an opening for a job they might be interested in, and vice versa (you help them, they help you).
Also, make sure to look into any professional organizations you saw at the fair and try to join them, if they fall in line with the goals you have for your career.
Career fairs certainly aren’t the easiest things to navigate, even if you’ve been to several already. Though, by practicing and following these tips, you’ll make a lasting impression on the people you meet and have strong chance of getting the job you’re searching for.