I have been in college for roughly 3 years now and I’ve participated in quite a few career fairs. Yet, I still get butterflies every time I walk into the room full of companies and organizations. That first handshake, the small conversations, the nervousness, the success and the failure are all the things we, as college students, experience when going to career fairs. Luckily, I had the amazing opportunity recently to be the featured Insider speaker for the month with the topic on Career Fair Success Tips. Thanks to this, I get to share my experience of going to career fairs and offer advice to other students so we can all strive to succeed in our future career fairs.
Do your research.
Before attending any career fair, it is essential to research the companies beforehand. This gives you knowledge about the company’s mission, business culture, and the potential positions, which could turn into a big icebreaker to spice up your conversation with the recruiters. I usually reach out to the people from the companies that I’m interested in if I can find their contact information. I let them know I’ll be coming to the career fair and ask what positions they are looking for if that is not stated on the school’s page.
Prepare your resume
Learn to build an impressive résumé. It is important that you have others, especially a career counselor, proofread your résumé. Meeting a career counselor at your school’s career center or redeeming the resume critique award via the Pearson Student Insider is a key to success! A recruiter once told me that it’s important to consider the type of paper we should print our résumé on! Even though you may impress recruiters through the conversation, it does not hurt adding that extra impression when they look at your résumé! I usually use ivory paper that is thicker than the usual paper, so employers can feel the difference as soon as they touch my résumé. Small details matter.
Additionally, make sure you come to the career fair with professional attire. Each college student should have at least one to two professional suits that can be used for formal occasions. And practice your elevator pitch so you can impress the recruiter as soon as you come to the table. One very good way to overcome nervousness before the fair is to practice the “power pose” recommended by Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy. Insiders can complete a challenge on power posing here.
When you first arrive at the career fair, browse all the tables first before you start talking with any. The rule of thumb is to start with smaller companies, even the ones whose positions do not entirely match your interest. This gives you time to practice and get in the mood of communicating!
After attending the career fair, do not forget to follow-up! I usually make an Excel document with the name of the company, the recruiter contact information and start keeping track of dates and times I followed up. It is recommended that you follow-up within 24 hours, but do not rush the follow-up email. Make the email professional but also personal; mention what you and the recruiter discussed and what you found interesting.
Learn from the experience.
Be yourself when you’re at the career fair. Be intentional in selling yourself, but at the same time, enjoy the atmosphere, be yourself, show your passion when talking with anyone. I know we are afraid of many things, such as “what if the person does not like me”, “what if I get stuck in the middle of the conversation”, “what if I do not get the interview for the position I want”, but think about it: we not only learn through success, but we also learn from failure. If your first career fair does not go as well as expected, don’t lose heart! Learn from the experience and try again at the next career fair.
Pearson Students – how do you prepare for your campus career fair? Share your tips when you comment on my blog!