Written by Jennifer Fantin, Recruitment and Admissions Assistant
Career fairs can be intimidating. Full of hungry job seekers, eager employers, and a lot of conversation, the key to success lies in your preparation and ability to leave a good impression. Below are some tips for effectively navigating a career fair:
1. Try to attend industry specific job fairs. General fairs, although great practice, can be more overwhelming and yield less promising leads. It is best to get in front of employers who represent your field of interest.
2. Research interesting companies beforehand. A vital step in your preparation should be to research the organizations you plan to approach. Know some background, potential job openings, and what distinguishes you as a good fit.
3. Walk up to an employer’s booth and strike up a conversation. With large numbers of attendees all looking for job or internship opportunities there is no time to be shy. Although it may be difficult to approach to a stranger and start selling yourself, that is the point of a career fair. You will not have a great deal of time with each organization so be ready to briefly explain yourself, your current position, and what you are looking for as it relates to the employer.
4. Make sure your resume is prepared, and hand it out. Scruitnize your resume in advance and make any necessary updates. Then print copies on nice quality resume paper. Carrying the documents in a padfolio is a great way to look professional and ensure that the paper does not get bent.
5. Have a good handshake. Shaking hands is an essential part of your introduction. A firm handshake stands out, and it does contribute to your overall impression. At an event that attracts hundreds of individuals, anything you can do to separate from the masses will help.
6. Energy and enthusiasm matter. With a short window of time in front of each employer, something they will pick up on right away is your attitude. It will be one of the most memorable things you leave behind. Come across as engaged and interested; ask questions, and show your passion.
7. Ask for a business card so that you can follow up later. This point is stressed time and time again, but that is only due to its importance. A follow up is both respectful and an excellent way to emphasize your interest.
Another great article, from Forbes, to provide additional advice on career fair etiquette can be found here.