How to Maximize Your Time at a Career Fair

Preparing for a career fair takes a bit work including updating your resume, researching companies, formulating your pitch, planning your wardrobe and more. It’s important to keep in mind that the goal of the participating recruiters is to find qualified candidates for their current or future openings.

Therefore, be ready to pitch who you are as a professional to help you move on to the next step of the hiring process. Here are some tips to help you create a strategy to gain the interest of employers.

Bring plenty of resumes and business cards. Bring more resumes and business cards than you think you may need. Place these in a padfolio to avoid wrinkling your materials. Business cards should include your name, a title representing who you are as a professional, email address, phone number, and your personalized LinkedIn URL. Additionally, include major areas of strengths or relevant credentials; and blog or website if applicable.

Network, listen, and browse while you wait. You may more than likely spend time waiting in line to speak to an employer, so be sure to maximize your time (and wear comfortable shoes).  If you’re at the end of line, view the fair’s Program Guide or app to browse company pages or the event map to plan your next move. As you move up in the line take the time to introduce yourself to candidates either behind your or in front of you to network with fellow UMUC students and alumni. Exchange business cards for future follow up if you make a good connection. When you get closer to the recruiter, listen to the information that is being shared and questions that are being asked to prepare yourself accordingly.

Avoid asking the wrong questions. Questions such as “Do you have any positions in marketing?” or “What are you hiring for?” sends the recruiter a message that you likely did not come prepared to speak them.  Additionally, questions about salary and benefits should be avoided and can be addressed later should you be contacted for a formal interview.

Prepare replies to interview questions. Recruiters will likely ask questions about your experience and skills, so be prepared to share details about relevant experience. They may also inquire about what you know about the company and why you are interested in working for them.  

Ask about next steps. If you have already applied for the position (highly recommended), ask the employer about next steps or how to contact them for follow up. And as a reminder, thank the recruiter for their time.

Remember to lead your introduction with what you have to offer as professional as it relates to the position you are seeking.  This will make it easier for the recruiter to assess your potential as a candidate and maximizes your opportunity to move forward with the next step in the hiring process.

For more information on career opportunities and resources available to UMUC students and alumni from the Office of Career Services, click here.

Cathy Francois, MBA, GCDF is a Career Advising Specialist and Adjunct Instructor at University of Maryland University College and a certified Global Career Development Facilitator. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Florida and a Master of Business Administration from Kaplan University. Cathy’s career began in advertising sales and customer service, after which she transitioned into higher education, working as an admissions advisor. She also served as an academic advising and career services for over 7 years. Cathy has a passion for helping people succeed and uses her diverse experience and interpersonal skills to bring a personalized approach to career coaching.