For many, career fairs are the perfect launching pad for their dreams, goals, and aspirations. The opportunity to mingle with employers, receive valuable insights from established professionals, and a once in a lifetime chance to acquire valuable contacts without too much hassle.
A career fair presents a unique opportunity to college students, and it would be foolhardy not to make adequate preparations and grab it with both hands.
Here are a few tips to help you maximize your chances of success at your next career fair.
Preparing For The Career Fair
- Research: Before the big day, carry out your due diligence on your prospective employers: research the companies comprehensively, arm yourself with little nuggets of information relating to the organizations as well as the industry as a whole.
- Prepare Questions: An extension of your research. Prepare thoughtful questions that can spark meaningful conversations with potential employers. Recruiters value prospects who are able to, not only adequately answer questions, but also contribute to the discussion with hard-hitting questions.
Ask about industry projections, or new trends being adopted by their companies. Your question should paint a picture of a candidate who is ready to jump right into the trenches with them.
- Résumé Development: Your resume can make or break your job prospects. Remember that sometimes, less is more—trim your resume appropriate, cutting out irrelevancies or potential red flags. Highlight your strengths, and point out the specific skills you possess which make you an invaluable asset to any employer.
Remember to make multiple copies of your resume. It is in your best interest to prepare twice as many resumes as there are prospective employers.
- A Business Card is Vital: Prepare a simple and to the point business card to hand out to recruiters. Having a business card shows how much of a professional you are, and can only add credibility to your résumé.
Preparing Your Elevator Pitch
No matter how loaded with accomplishments and qualifications your résumé is, nothing leaves a lasting impression like a powerful pitch, on the spot. Brief, straightforward, and full of personal insights: your elevator pitch should sell you as an irresistible candidate to your prospective employers.
Touch on the following key points when crafting a powerful pitch:
- Who You Are
- What You Do
- How You Do It
- Why You Do It
Spend time creating thoughtful answers for each of these headers, as you usually have under a minute to sell yourself to a recruiter before he/she loses interest.
Practice repeatedly. At odd hours. When stuck in tense situations like a traffic jam. To properly nail the performance down to an art. Get a friend or trusted advisor to bounce ideas off, or to give you valuable pointers on what to improve.
The Career Fair
Finally, the day has come, all your preparations have led to this moment. You have come face-to-face with those in charge of filling up your dream job-openings. How do you conduct yourself?
- Dress Appropriately: Unless there has been a directive to the contrary, always be on the safe side by dressing professionally to a career fair. If your prospective employers have a reputation of being business casual, ask around for confirmation from people with experience, but if you are in doubt dress professionally.
- Schedule Your Interviews: Map out your day, to avoid conflicting appointments. Always begin with your first choice employers and work your way down your scale of preference. This way, you are not fatigued and burnt out when you finally get to your most desirable potential employer.
- Be Confident, Positive, and Assertive: Introduce yourself confidently, with a firm handshake and a smile on your face. Answer questions with confidence and with certainty—try to maintain eye contact while conversing. Through the course of your meetings maintain a positive attitude, be optimistic, and try to leave a good impression on all interviewers.
- Ask Questions: Ask questions when in doubt, or when you need clarifications. Be sure to be courteous when speaking to representatives, ask questions respectfully, and avoid being confrontational. The questions you prepared before the fair will make you a standout candidate to recruiters, so choose them wisely.
- Ask For Business Cards: Hand out your resume at all the recruiter booth you make a stop at. Also, at the end of any meeting, be sure to thank your interviewers for their time, present your business card, and ask for theirs, for follow up.
Career fairs are a goldmine for those who know how to navigate them. Go out today and take advantage of the opportunities available. Good luck.