You walk on campus the morning of a career fair. You scan the aisles of employers, seeing a few that interest you, but most you’ve never heard of, and think “Eh, it’s probably not even worth it.” Today, a growing number of college students think career fairs are pointless. Maybe what you really need is more guidance on HOW to make the most out of them.
Career Fairs give you an opportunity to connect with recruiters who can make sure your resume is seen and even get you hired for your dream job/internship. They also present the opportunity for you to be evaluated on more than just your resume including your effective communication, critical thinking skills and ability to be a team player.
Here are a couple tips on how to make the most out of a seemingly pointless career fair that in practice, may change your view of things...
1) Dress for the job you want
You may have heard the phrase, “first impressions are everything.” That’s especially true when meeting with employers. Your outfit communicates who you are, your level of interest in the role, and your professional tendencies to recruiters. Don’t roll up in sweats or workout leggings. Instead, wear business attire, carry a portfolio (not a backpack) and make sure your handshake is solid (practice it with your friends). The goal is to look professional, confident, and approachable.
2) Do your research
You may want to stop reading when you see the word research, but treating the career fair like an interview is the best way to ensure success. Come to the table with knowledge on the company’s mission, their clients, what they do, and the positions they’re recruiting for or that interest you, that way you’re the driver of the conversation. Not only will you stand out, but the recruiter may decide to put you in touch with another department closer to your interests, or introduce you to the head recruiter at the fair. And make sure to prep a few questions, as these help express your interest in the company.
3) Pick the Companies You Want to Talk to
You don’t have all the time in the world, so prioritize the companies you want to talk to before you go. Like any night at the bar, there will be lines. Your best bet is to try to work around the crowds by assessing which booths you should speak to first, and use your time to meet with less crowded tables. Put a few companies you’ve never heard of on your list, these are your wildcards, AKA booths that may not have lines and that you can fill your time with.
4) Have an elevator pitch
This one is so important. Have a 1 minute pitch ready and memorized that introduces you and includes the following:
- Career aspirations
- How these all tie into working for this company/why you want to work for this company
- What interests you about their company
Don’t try to sound too rehearsed like a robot, recruiters hate that.
For more tips on Career Fairs and all things internship/job search related, students can sign up for PathMatch's flexible plans that include one-on-one career coaching, resume and cover letter editing, elevator pitch optimization, and an insider's look at what employers are looking for and how to stand out at a career fair or in an interview.
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