While virtual career fairs are increasing in popularity, in-person career fairs are still being organized. Thus, there is still a need for you to know how to approach and conquer these potential "career making" events. There will always be value in the opportunity to meet with a hiring manager face to face. The strong connection that can be made during such an interaction is unique and should be taken very seriously. This is an exciting opportunity to shine! Below are some tips for making your in-person career fair a great success.
You can give yourself a huge advantage in the preparation department by researching the companies that will be at the career fair. Oftentimes, if you pre-register for the career fair online then you will be able to see the companies that will be attending. This could even give you the ability to see the actual people that will be there representing the company.
Why is this information helpful? You can make a good impression on a hiring manager by exhibiting some level of knowledge about the company itself and the industry that it operates in. At a career fair, you should be prepared to speak intelligently about a company's general operations, mission and any current newsworthy headlines.
Once you know which companies will be attending, it would be a good idea to map out your day and to prioritize your booth visits. Career Fairs can be crowded and chaotic at times, easily throwing you off your game if you allow it. You are likely to experience lines and wait times at some of the booths that you visit. Having a plan of attack and a priority list will give you the best chance to speak with all of the companies that are on the top of your list.
And remember, you are there to meet with companies, not socialize with classmates. Spend your time wisely, and then you can all celebrate after the career fair!
While a career fair is not an official interview, it's not far from it. You will likely be asked some pretty standard interview questions by the hiring managers. Some of those questions might include, "Why would you like to work for our company?" or "What experiences have you had that would make you a good fit within our company?".
If you prepare for the career fair like you are preparing for an interview, then you will not be caught off guard by the simplest of questions that may come up. This will give you a better chance to make a good impression. No surprises! It is also a good idea to come with some questions of your own to ask the company reps.
You will not need to bring a lot to the career fair. A notepad for taking notes, business cards if you have them, and perhaps a change of clothes. But something you absolutely can't forget is multiple copies of your resume. This is a great opportunity to put your resume directly in the hands of a hiring manager, and for them to be able to put a face to that resume. Please don't forget your resumes at home.
I would also recommend having different versions of your resume, customized to the various companies you are most interested in. You want your resume to be as relevant to the specific job opening as possible. This tactic will extend beyond the career fair as well.
From the moment you walk up, hiring managers are forming an impression of you. They are wondering if you are someone that could fit in with their organization. Are you dressed professionally in either business casual or business formal attire? Do you carry yourself with confidence and speak clearly?
When you only get a few minutes to make a first impression, a good appearance and attitude is paramount. Here are some key tips to adhere to: dress professionally, do not be shy, rehearse your elevator pitch, speak confidently, wait your turn patiently, and do not monopolize their time.
Throughout the career fair you should have been collecting business cards. And this is not so that you can feel professional or show all your friends how many cards you got. It is so that you can follow up with the hiring managers you met.
A nice note after your introductory meeting could go a long way. Tell them that you enjoyed meeting them and that your interest in their company remains strong. If possible, include some tidbit from your conversation that would help them remember who you are. In this circumstance, a brief email is probably sufficient. But a handwritten note might really set you apart from the crowd!