10 Successful Tips to Stand Out at Career Fairs
Career fairs are incredibly exciting, but they can feel a little overwhelming–especially if it’s your first one. At the CIA, a typical career fair will have more than 140 employers and over 800 students in the room. Whether you are there to gather information and network or find an externship or a job, preparation can lead to success.
“Think like a recruiter,” recommends Associate Director of Career Services, Ronald Hayes. “It’s a great opportunity to have so many companies in the same room looking to hire you.”
So, what are recruiters searching for? How can you leave a good impression?
Here are the 10 tips to stand out from the crowd at Career Fairs:
- Be confident. Even if you have to fake it. Don’t be afraid to walk up to the recruiter, shake their hands, maintain eye contact, and address the recruiter by name after a quick glance at their name tag.
- Do Your Homework. Being able to demonstrate enthusiasm and interest requires researching your target employers ahead of time. The Office of Career Services sends out a roster before the event. Go over the list, see who you want to work for, and find out as much as you can about that company.
- Know yourself. Prepare a short, professional introduction that tells the recruiter who you are, your career interests, experience, and what you are bringing to the table that makes you stand out from the other students.
- Be presentable. Dress for the job you want. If you’re wearing chef’s whites, make sure it is crisp, clean, and you look polished. If you’re looking for a management position, dress in business casual. Tuck in your shirt, wear a belt, put away sunglasses, ditch the white athletic socks, and show up in appropriate and comfortable shoes.
- Bring résumé Update your résumé; ensure they are clean, concise, and easy to read at arm’s length. Always bring more résumés than you think you need. It’s better to have too many than too few.
- Show your work. Bring a sampling of your work for the recruiter to see—whether it’s on your phone, iPad, or an old-fashioned hard copy portfolio. Recruiters will remember you better.
- Pick up lots and lots of business cards. Remember that this is a networking opportunity. Take the time to interact with recruiters and make a connection. Even if you don’t end up working for them now, there may come a time down the road when you want to reach out to them. Having their info will make it easier, and you can refer to meeting them at Career Fair.
- Follow up. Send a quick e-mail after the event to say thank you. Use this moment to share another copy of your résumé, and stay top of mind with recruiters.
- Secure your next point of contact. If you want an interview, tell them. Schedule a time to meet for the next day of the Career Fair, or plan for an interview via phone or Skype.
- Finally, practice, practice, practice. Hayes suggests going through the roster and picking out a company you don’t want to work for–somewhere far or out of your lane–and visit that table first. Practice your handshake, your greeting, your eye contact, and your pitch. Then by the time you get to the tables you are interested in, you’ll be more comfortable.
By Jheanel Walters