Career fairs can be intimidating, but it’s a great way to network and learn about potential employers. Whether it’s the competition with other job seekers or knowing how to pitch yourself that scares you, these few steps will help eliminate any fear you may have about that upcoming career fair. There’s plenty you can do to prepare for these events, and we’ll give you everything you need to know to land that interview.
Find Out Who Will Be There
Career fairs require you to do some lifting on the front end, even before you go. The career fair should provide a list of all the companies that will be attending the fair beforehand so that you can decide who you want to stop by and see. Make your own list from the master list of those who you want to meet and figure out where their booths will be located (there’s usually a map provided). At the very least by doing this, you’ll hit your top choices. Be sure to do your research on the companies you want to see so that you have general knowledge about them and can help you generate a list of questions for each one.
Dress for Success & Comfort
Once you’re there, it’s important to dress professionally—but at a career fair, you want to be comfortable, too. Wear a lightweight outfit that won’t get too hot and check your coat or leave it behind. And make sure your shoes are extra comfortable—you’ll most likely be on your feet for several hours!
Create the ideal resume – it should be concise but detailed. If you’re attending a career fair in person, be sure to print multiple copies of your resume on resume paper, and always print more than you need, as you don’t know who you may end up speaking with that wasn’t on your list. Be sure to include your contact info/LinkedIn page, education, year of graduation, prior work experiences, unique skills and anything that speaks to your personality or biography. Leaving your resume with someone is the same exchange as leaving them with a business card. Make a good first impression and leave them with your information so that they can put a face to your name when they look at your resume.
Ask Good Questions
Attending a job fair is about making connections, establishing yourself as a professional seeking employment and networking. Part of each of those components is to find out more about companies that interest you and where you could see yourself potentially building a long-term career post-grad. You want to know the mission of the company, what types of people and personalities they hire, what the growth opportunities are like and what their culture is like. What kind of individual do they WANT to hire?
Write A Thank You Letter
After the career fair, you’ll need to sit down and send follow-up emails to those with whom you talked. During the career fair, you probably picked up a handful of business cards, and be sure you do so that you have their contact information afterwards. A thank you note goes a long way in letting them know that you’re seriously interested in the company and the job. Use this as an opportunity to highlight some of your favorite parts of the conversation, or something you learned that you didn’t know before, and let them know that you’re looking forward to learn next steps.
Career fairs shouldn’t be intimidating – they should be opportunities to grow your network and to relieve yourself of any initial jitters you may have in the next phase or interview. Keep an open mind throughout your experience and you will be sure to see the benefit in one way or another.
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