Going To A Career Fair? Here Are 9 Steps To Being Better Than Everyone Else There

by Mindy Julius

Remember when we talked about how to ace your interview? Career fairs are just the speed-dating version of that. It’s completely normal to be nervous, but with a little prep you’ll make great impressions on the recruiters you talk to.

1.Use your career center’s list of companies attending the fair to make a game plan.

Pick 10 companies you’re interested in and create a strategy to talk to all of them. If time’s tight, allow a few extra minutes for waiting in case the reps are busy with other students.

2. Get a professional photo.

One of the things many university career centers offer is a professional portrait for students attending the career fair. If this is available to you, take them up on it. You might need one for your LinkedIn profile or an application.

3. Dress to impress.

If you have a suit, wear a suit.  If you don’t have a suit, get a suit. If new business duds aren’t in your budget right now, don’t worry! You’ll be fine in nice slacks and a button-down shirt. (Ladies, you can also wear professional dresses if you prefer.)

Protip: You’ll be on your feet all day, so comfortable shoes are key.

4. Bring 10 more resumes than you think you’ll need.

If you’ve run out of resume paper or card stock, use regular printer paper. You never know if you’ll unexpectedly stumble across another company hiring interns in your field.

5. Use a padfolio to look impressively organized instead of fumbling for items you need.

A padfolio is a great tool because it:

  • Keeps the copies of your resume looking crisp.
  • Stores flyers and business cards from recruiters.
  • Holds pen and paper so you can quickly and easily jot down an email or application tips.
  • Won’t break the bank: You can find a lot of options available for under $20.
  • Is a fun word to say.

6. Prepare answers for questions you know they’ll ask.

Most representatives are going to ask the same stuff, like:

  • What’s your major? Why did you choose it?
  • Are you involved in any campus activities or clubs?
  • What kind of internship are you looking for?
  • What kind of job do you want after graduation?

The best part about essentially having the same conversation ten times over is that you can improve your answers as the day continues.

7. Make it clear you’ve done your research and are curious to know more.

Representatives are there to tell you about employment opportunities, but it’s refreshing when you’re already knowledgeable about the company. It’s even more memorable when you ask questions of your own, like:

  • What do you like about working for this company?
  • What’s the hiring process for an internship? Is general timeline for making hiring decisions?
  • What’s the conversion rate to full-time employees?
  • Do you have any advice for applying to a position with their organization?

8. Get their contact information, and use it.

Ask the representative you’re talking to if they have a business card you can use to follow up. If you’re interested in the position, send them an email thanking them for their time.

9. If you plan on picking up swag, bring a bag.

Free stuff is awesome, and there’s a lot of it at career fairs. Employers will use all sorts of stuff like pens, cups, candy bars, stress balls, and key chains to try to lure you to their booths. Make sure you bring something to transport all your new goodies around so you don’t miss out. After all this prep, you earned it!

Are you a Perryman scholar who wants a little extra interview practice? Email director@perrymanfoundation.org to schedule a mock interview! It’s a great opportunity to iron out your jitters and get feedback on what you did well and things you can improve.

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