It goes without saying that the job market today is extremely tough. There are many talented individuals that are all qualified for whatever role that you may also be applying for after college. After all, everyone that is applying for a position will possess the basic requirements that the posting requires. However, one particular saying that has held its worth over time is, “It is not about what you know, but rather who you know.”
Since many job postings have thousands of applicants, it is important that recruiters know who you are in order to set yourself apart from the crowd. Networking at career fairs is a great opportunity to do exactly that. This can result in gaining new insights to job postings, building special connections that carry great worth, and potentially even getting a job. With that being said, it is important to put your best foot forward. Here are three important aspects that you should cover in order to be prepared for your upcoming career fair.
Before the Event: Plan Ahead
One of the most important steps that you should take ahead of the event is to research the companies that will be present. From there, prioritize the top five or ten companies that you want to talk to specifically. Those companies should be appealing in terms of: nature of the business, location, culture, and potential job openings. Next, research the proper attire. Since it is the first time you will be meeting with recruiters, it is strongly encouraged to wear business professional attire in order to set a great first impression. Details of the event’s attire will be located on the career fair flier or at the career services office typically. Finally, make sure to print multiple copies of your resume to give out at the event.
During the Event: Talk Yourself Up
Be ready to market yourself to recruiters. You get about five to ten minutes, so it is important to talk with a purpose. To do that, you should consider creating an elevator pitch, a short introduction in which you quickly tell someone about your educational and career background, skills you possess, and career aspirations. There are plenty of websites that give basic templates to help you plan what to say. Your campus career services office probably has resources to help you develop and improve your pitch. After giving your pitch to a recruiter, be ready to answer any questions the recruiter may have. It is key that you communicate clearly and be straightforward about what you want, whether that be expanding your network or learning more about a specific program. To end the interaction, make sure to thank the employer, ask for their business card, hand them your resume, and give them a firm handshake and smile.
After the Event: Follow-Up
Although you might have left the career fair, you are not quite done yet. The last step that you need to do is follow up with every recruiter you spoke to. Connect with them on LinkedIn. Include a note in your connection invitation to make it more personal. If you were able to get their business card, send an email to follow up and thank them for their time. This will be crucial when applying to jobs or internships at their company, as you can now potentially use them as a reference on the application which will greatly improve your chances. Make sure to periodically check in with the recruiter, ask if you can meet with them if they are local or if they are going to be on campus again soon. This will create rapport and make you more memorable for future offerings.
In conclusion, this is the general checklist that you should follow for before, during, and after a campus career fair in order to put your best foot forward and improve your chances in landing an interview. I hope you all utilize these tips in order to be successful in your upcoming career fair.