Whether you're in school and seeking your first job in the real world or looking to embark on a new career path, attending a career or job fair is a smart step for marketing yourself to potential employers. On top of the unavoidable anxiety that comes with job seeking, how can you stand out among other attendees and make a memorable first impression with potential employers? Follow these 5 tips to make the most of your next career fair.
Research the employers
Before going into a career fair, it’s incredibly beneficial to know what companies you plan to connect with to optimize your time (after all, you’re likely attending to get face time with company reps). Once you determine which companies you’d like to network with, review their websites to understand what they do, their core values, community involvement, and any social media channels to understand their culture. Ultimately, can you see yourself working with this company?
After researching the companies, you can craft a more tailored and personal introduction. This is the perfect opportunity to:
Introduce who you are and your area of interest (i.e., digital marketing, sales, data science, etc.)
What component(s) stood out most when researching the company online?
How can you connect your interests to what they do?
A great introduction might sound like:
Hi, I’m John Smith, and I’m currently interning as a social media marketing intern at ABC Marketing here in Columbus. I noticed that your team recently completed a massive project with a healthcare client and increased organic traffic by 20% YoY by implementing the right mix of media, awareness building, and acquisition. One of my passions is connecting data to creative content and testing out messaging based on desired target audiences to drive conversions. I’d love to hear more about your team’s project and what you do at ABC!
Approaching the company booths with intention and understanding who they are and what they do will help set you apart from other attendees – it’s a win-win!
Print copies of your resume
While it may feel “out of date,” bringing hard copies of your resume to a career fair shows your interest, drive, and professionalism. Make sure your resume is up to date and can pass the 10-second test.
Don’t have a printer at home? No sweat. Your local library is an excellent resource for more than just books, and they can help you print copies for less than $0.50 per copy. We recommend researching how many company booths you’d like to visit (see #1 above), then double that number for how many copies to bring with you.
Prepare a good elevator pitch.
This is simply an answer you give to the most asked “So… tell me about yourself?” question. This is your chance to show off who you are and your accomplishments in 30-seconds or less. Our Talent Executive, Katherine Ortiz, shares how to best answer "tell me about yourself" during an interview or, in this case, as an intro to a potential employer.
Plan a follow-up strategy
Like after a job interview, follow up with the individuals at the company booths you networked with and are interested in pursuing a career. While at the career fair, jot down notes such as big takeaways from your time with the organizations. This will help keep you organized once you leave the career fair.
We recommend adding the individuals you networked with on LinkedIn and sending them a quick note about your time with them. This will help you stand out among all the attendees they talked with and leave a great impression! If you discussed a specific role with the company, you can use this as an opportunity to ask about next steps.
Review additional benefits of attending the career fair
Along with networking with the companies, take advantage of other benefits of attending a career fair. For example, the organizers may offer attendees professional headshots or a resume review station. Who doesn’t want a free professional headshot to update their LinkedIn or Handshake profiles when job seeking? This information will be included on the career fair’s webpage if it’s being offered.
These ad-hoc opportunities can help build your professionalism and help you understand how you can best stand out among the crowd!
Lastly, bring your confidence with you to the career fair! This is what shines through when you meet people (aka potential employers), and the above will help build that key confidence. These tips will undoubtedly set you up for personal and professional success when preparing to attend a career fair – you got this!
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