Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make an "all out" effort to meet with every employer that has the potential to hire you. In order to make that happen you will need to be prepared. Preparation is the key to making a successful presentation at any job or career fair.
Prior to the Event (PREPARE!)
Listen to these job fair related podcasts:
Job Fairs: The Basics - Job fairs are an excellent opportunity to meet multiple employers in one convenient location. These face-to-face forums allow you to learn first hand about prospective employers and their hiring needs, and to present your credentials in person without a prior appointment. Here's how to meet recruiters who are ready and willing to speak with you at your convenience!
Job Fairs: A Day At the Fair - Job fairs can be crucial when it comes to finding employment opportunities. Here's how to successfully interact one-on-one with recruiters, gather details and leads firsthand, and present your résumé and credentials, all in one place!
Job Fairs: All the Wrong Moves - Recruiters scouting for the most qualified candidates are as intent on screening people out as they are in letting them in. Don't make the elimination process any easier by committing the following job fair mistakes.
To make the most of the event, we also recommend the following:
Think about your strong points, your goals, the organization and where you want to go within the company. Prepare a "one-minute commercial" detailing your background and aspirations.
Consider where you want to work geographically (New York - Boston - anywhere), what you like doing, what you're looking for in a first job, what your most relevant skills are.
Prepare your résumé! If you need assistance in preparing a résumé, attend résumé workshops, use the examples found in your Career Services office, or go to College Central's Job Search Kit. Once you've started, meet with a counselor to "fine tune" your résumé.
Understand how your skills (or the ones that you want to develop) relate to the organizations and employment opportunities that are available.
Thoroughly research your "core" companies and gain background information upon which you can base your conversations with the company representatives. Check your school's library, career center and company web pages for the information that you'll need to prepare for the event.
Prepare your own event kit complete with résumés (enough for all employers that you want to talk with, plus a few extras). Other items that support your interests and abilities such as references, written work or a portfolio can also be helpful.
Day of the Event (PERFORM!)
Dress the same as you would for a job interview. You want to present the best image possible -- jeans, sweatshirts, and backpacks won't cut it. Avoid excessive jewelry and perfume. You will only have a few minutes to make an impression as a job candidate. Positive first impressions are critical.
Turn off your cell phone and other electronic devices! Ringers, alerts and phone conversations are distracting and disrespectful. Let the employers know that they are your main focus.
Arrive early and map out your strategy. Who will you talk with first? Lines will be longer for some employers than they will be for others. Plan accordingly and don't waste valuable time by standing in line.
Keep an open mind and don't miss out on opportunities due to lack of information or effort. You may want to tour the event and make contact with all the participating organizations to learn more about them and what they have to offer, but visit your "core" companies first.
Introduce yourself to company representatives in a positive and confident manner; offer a firm handshake. Include your name, your school (if the event isn't only for your school), degree, major, and the year you are graduating.
Tell the recruiter about your job interests. For example:Discuss a particular career or job with that organization
Learn more about the organization and available opportunities
Learn more about what someone does in a particular career
Discuss internship or summer job opportunities
Present your résumé and be ready to discuss your background, qualifications and career goals. Ask what you should do to apply for a position with them.
Think of questions that you have regarding your area(s) of interest. Take notes on the answers you receive. Some questions might be:What are common career paths within your organization?
What is the training program for new hires?
What do you look for in a candidate?
What advice do you have for applicants?
Make sure you obtain each representative's name, title, address, email address, and phone number so you can follow up with them. Collect literature and business cards whenever possible and ask the representatives when you can expect to hear back from them.
Be sure to take notes after each table. Write down your thoughts about the company, the recruiter, your chances, follow-up strategies, to-do list, etc. Keep this information organized!
After the Event (PERSIST!)
After the event, you should make it a point to follow up with a letter expressing your interest in the company and in what they have to offer. You may want to include an updated résumé, a link to an electronic portfolio, or provide better answers to specific questions asked during the event. Thank you/follow up letters should be received by the employer within 2-5 days after an event.