Career fairs are a wonderful opportunity for you to meet recruiters and learn more about potential employment opportunities. To ensure career fair success attendees will need to put their best foot forward and prepare in advance, here are a few tips and best practices to follow.
Clarify Your Career Focus
It is important that you know why you want to attend a career fair. You will be spending a great deal of time networking and talking to recruiters. When speaking with recruiters you want to be able to express what you want to do. Whether it is an internship, full-time work, the clearer you are about your career focus the more likely you are to achieve your goal.
Pre-register for the Event
Registering for the career fair is an important step in the process. Potential employers may view your resume before the event if you were required to upload your resume during registration. This can put you in front of potential employers sooner than other job seekers.
Research the Companies
One of the most important steps in the preparation process is spending time learning about the employers who will be participating at the career. Review the list of employers and note the reasons why you want to work for that company. What knowledge/skills and abilities do you have to offer? How you are a good fit. What unique qualities stand out about that employer? Prioritize your list of participating companies/agencies and prepare questions for the ones you are interested in meeting.
Prepare Your Resume
When attending a career fair in person, even if you submitted your resume in advance, bring plenty of hard copies with you to give to the recruiter. This is a good way for the recruiter to remember you and jot down notes about the conversation. If you are looking for more than one type of position, each significantly different, you might need two different versions of your resumes. If you want resume reviewed prior to the event there are several tools that you can use to help you. To help you prepare, check out VMOCK – a tool that uses algorithms to analyze your resume and offer you specific feedback on ways to improve it – and Resunate – a web-based software program that allows you to upload your resume and automatically evaluate and improve it based on the job description that you provide – to help you prepare. UMUC students and alumni can access these tools by logging into CareerQuest and visiting the “Tools/Resources” section.
Prepare a 2-3 minute Elevator Speech
Your elevator speech or pitch tells the employer who you are, what you do and what you are looking for. This is your opportunity to sell your skills sets and deliver your elevator pitch for the job(s) you are interested in applying to. It should be brief and to the point. For example:
“Hi, my name is_______. I am a recent graduate/student/alumni from UMUC. I have done some research on your Web site and am interested in the ________ position with your company/agency. I would like to tell you a little about my background. Just in case an employer has not listed the positions they are hiring for, you can still provide information about the type of position you are looking for.”
Dress for Success
The career fair is professional and it is recommended that you wear conservative business attire. Make sure that accessories are kept to a minimum and refrain from wearing cologne or perfume (an employer might be allergic).
It is important to put your best foot forward and prepare for the event. Your efforts to secure an interview and get the job that you want are greatly enhanced by how well you prepare. Remember you have a lot to offer an employer and they are looking for great talent. Keep in mind that UMUC Career Services is available to help you in every stage of your career.
Click here to log into CareerQuest and access additional career tools and resources to help you prepare for any stage in your career progression.
Rhoda Smackum is an associate certified career coach and global career development facilitator. Her areas of expertise include career coaching, career transition, career exploration, working with special populations, job search strategizing, and supervision.