Tips for Job Seekers Preparing for a Career Fair

UMUC’s 2018 Spring Career Fair registration is now open! Register now to attend the In-person Spring Career Fair on March 7 and the Virtual Spring Career Fair on March 14.

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:

Prepare Questions
If you want to stand out and leave a lasting impression, ask well-thought-out questions. Company recruiters are interested in prospective hires who are smart, well informed, and prepared.  

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.

Bring Copies of 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 may need two different versions of your resume. If you want your resume reviewed prior to the event, there are several tools you can use to receive feedback. 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. Access these tools by logging into CareerQuest and visiting the “Tools/Resources” section.

Practice your Pitch
Your elevator speech or pitch tells the employer who you are, what you do, and what you are looking for. It is important to have a succinct, clear, and direct answer. For example:

“Hi, my name is_______. I am a recent graduate/student/alumni from UMUC. I have done some research on your website and am interested in the ________ position with your company/agency. I would like to tell you a little about my background.”

Note: 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.

Look the Part
A career fair is a professional event, and it is recommended that you wear business attire. Your formal interview begins the moment you enter the room.

It is important to put your best foot forward by preparing for the event. Your efforts to secure an interview and get the job 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.

To access additional career tools and resources, log in to CareerQuest now.

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.