How to get the Most Out of a Career Fair

Information about professional opportunities and career options is provided at career and job fairs by employers who attend these events to meet students and recruit employees. How you participate in a career fair depends upon your current career needs and goals. As a student or alumnus attending a career fair, you may be actively job seeking, gathering career information or developing your network of career contacts.

Everyone Benefits from a Career Fair

Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors
  1. Collect information about careers that interest you
  2. Prospective internships, co-op positions, part-time jobs, and summer employment
  1. Potential full-time professional positions
  2. Gather information about employers in your field
All Students and Alumni
  1. Provides the opportunity to network with potential employers or contacts
  2. Practice meeting employers and discussing positions with potential employers
  3. Explore career requirements and demands for different careers
  4. Know who to contact for follow-up discussions and their hiring process
  5. Collect business cards or write down contact information to keep for your job search
  6. Learn about employment trends and current and future positions within different companies
  7. Broaden your focus to include many types of employers; for example, hospitals recruit and hire professionals in many different fields
  8. Discover training, compensation, and other benefits of different companies (let the employer offer any information about salary, do not ask)

What Employers Want From You

  1. Demonstrate that you have done your homework and researched their company.
  2. Be prepared! Develop questions to ask; courteously and enthusiastically engage the representatives.
  3. Use a firm hand shake and good eye contact.
  4. Never ask about salary; let them bring up the subject.
  5. Be enthusiastic, smile and have plenty of résumés.
  6. Follow up and thank the company representative.
  7. Be prepared! Have your résumé critiqued by Center for Career Development.
  8. Take the initiative! Walk up to them and engage the employers; they are here to speak to you!
  9. Demonstrate strong communication skills.

Be Prepared to Share with Employers

  1. Specific career and job objectives and expectations.
  2. Individual strengths and weaknesses, specific examples that demonstrate your skills.
  3. Contributions you will make to the operation—be specific, this is not the time to generically discuss what you can do.

Wear Professional Attire

This is your chance to make a good first impression; follow these guidelines:

  1. Business professional dress is mandatory.
  2. Hats and tennis shoes are unacceptable.
  3. Women should wear a business suit with coordinating blouse and closed-toed shoes.
  4. Men should wear dress slacks with a shirt and tie or a suit

Make the Most of Your Career Fair Experience

  • Have a pen or pencil and paper available for notes.
  • Bring plenty of resumes and a folder or portfolio to put materials in.
  • Review the employer list. Determine where employers are located and in what order to visit them. If you have a specific employer that you are interested in, practice speaking with other employers first.
  • Do not travel in groups with other students; this limits your ability to have quality interactions with employers.
  • Broaden your focus and include many type of employers. For instance, although you may not have thought of working for a hospital, nonprofit organization, or government department, these employers recruit and hire professionals in many different fields.
  • Do not monopolize the employers' time. Ask specific questions and offer to follow up after the fair, as appropriate.
  • Be direct. Introduce yourself. If you are job seeking, state the type of position you are interested in. If you are gathering information, let employers know that you are only interested in materials and information.
  • Ask for employers’ business cards for follow‑up discussions. Send a ‘thank you’ card within 48 hours of the fair.
  • Stay in contact and use this experience to expand your network.
  • Submit an additional or amended résumé during your follow-up contacts.
  • Follow-up and follow-through contacts are up to the student; be persistent and polite.

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