Preparing for a Career Fair

Posted: February 4, 2011 in Career Fair

Why should I attend a career fair if I am not looking for a job?

 If you have not yet experienced the world of career fairs, you should definitely take the opportunity to explore all they have to offer.  Even if you are not getting ready to graduate, or you are not interested in looking for a job, it is still a good idea to attend.  Perhaps you are unsure of the career field in which you would like to study, or maybe you are just trying to narrow your selection process.   Attending a career fair, and talking to a variety employers, will help you gain knowledge and understanding of the exciting career opportunities out there.

Attending a career fair is also a chance for you to practice presenting yourself as a brand.  There will always be a line of people vying for the same job or position that you want.  The key to attaining any position is your ability to market yourself, ensuring that you highlight your best qualities and professional attributes.  There will be several booths, all with different corporate objectives and candidate requirements.  You will not be a best fit at each company, but what better way to execute a few trial runs than a room that has a fresh start just a booth away?  Employers will be quite impressed with you taking an initiative and wanting to stand out among your peers as you market yourself. By the end of just one career fair, you will feel more prepared for a formal interview, more organized with your presentation, and more clear in the vision for your desired career paths.

How do I prepare for a career fair?

Before attending a job fair, it is important to prepare yourself. Here are just a few ways to give yourself an advantage:

1.) Review the list of companies attending and identify the career fields that each would most likely fall under.  Not all companies are going to be of interest you, but it is a good idea to research and learn more about the ones that are. The career list will have relevant information needed, such as, a company overview, positions for which they are hiring, and the regions they service or operate within.

2.)  Prepare a “mini speech” on how you want to stand out among the rest of your peers. For example, “Hello, my name is_John Doe__.  I am a Sophomore in Business Management at Collegiate University, with a minor in Accounting. I am looking for an internship next summer related to my Accounting Minor. I read on your webite that you offer an internship program in your Accounting Department, and I feel that my education and experience could serve as a tremendous asset to your company. I am very interested in your program.”  Each underlined word series should be replaced by your information and distinguishing attributes.  Keep in mind that some employers are going to take control of the conversation, and you may be doing more listening than speaking. That is quite all right. You still want to be prepared and proactive to show interest in their company. When I attended my first career fair, I watched many of my peers walk by various booths, look, and continue walking through the rest of the fair in that same manor.  Stop to talk.  It is important you speak first.  Ask questions.  You may find that your first instinct about a company was not a fair assessment.

3.) Have plenty of copies of your resume ready to distribute.  The worst possible case is that you find a company that intrigues you, and you look down to find that you do not have enough resumes printed out.  If this happens, your best option is to calmly and professionally excuse yourself, heading straight for the closest computer to print off more copies.  Your second option is submitting online or through email. However, this may not be the best choice as employers are going to be receiving a surplus of resumes, and there is significant benefit to putting a face to your name. I personally have had employers jot down a few notes on the back of my resumes as a reminder to them of things we discussed, and opportunities they thought would be a best fit for me.

4.) Knowing the dress code is imperative. Each career fair has its own style or expectation for attire. Career fairs could be Business Casual or Business Professional. If you are unsure, contact the fair sponsor.  Business Professional will require a well-fit suit for both men and women. Women should consider wearing a nicely pressed blouse or button down underneath your jacket.  Men will need to wear a sharp-looking button down, with a good fit and a tie to best compliment your suit jacket.  Color is your preference, but try to avoid wearing a bright red or yellow shirt, while also steering clear of shirts with a satin finish.  I would advise you have everything pressed and hung on hangers the night before, along with your dress shoes. Fit is everything. You want to appear professional and pulled together, not like you’re wearing someone else’s clothing.


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