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8 Tips For Attending Career Fairs

Career fairs are among the most important recruiting events if you’re a college student looking for a job after graduation. It’s a great opportunity to utilize your networking skills and build connections. However, there are some common mistakes you might make that can sink your chance of turning this opportunity into a job offer.

Here are 8 tips to help you prepare for your next career fair…

Dress appropriately

business-professional

We always say the first impression is important, so in order to give recruiters a great first impression, it’s crucial that you dress appropriately.

Many students often neglect the importance of what they wear during a career fair, but dressing professionally shows recruiters you have a professional attitude and approach to your career. The dress code for career fair is business professional. Take some time and work on your appearance to show you are prepared!

Research companies that you’re interested in

It’s also crucial that you do enough research ahead of time. Find a list of the companies attending the career fair and pick at least five to seven that you’re interested in. Then, get to work and do some research on them!

Go to the company’s website and social media pages. Make sure to have a clear idea what the business’ mission is, what its values are, and what the company culture is like.

Prepare questions and small talk topics in advance

rambling-on-and-on

After researching the companies, you should also prepare some questions you want to ask the recruiters from those companies. Don’t ask questions like, “Could you tell me what business your company is in?” These are the kinds of questions you can find the answer on your own, and is why you need to research the companies’ information in advance.

Ask questions such as, “I visited your company’s website and find out your company is currently working on [NAME OF A CURRENT PROJECT]. Could you tell me more about it?” This will let them know that you’ve done your homework.

You also need to think about how to start the conversation. For example, if the recruiter is an alumnus of your college, you can start the conversation by asking, “How does it like to come back on campus?” Some small talk before getting into the real content helps create a more comfortable environment for the conversation.

Bring enough copies of your resume

lots-of-papers

Make sure that you bring enough copies of resume—it’s the best way to help you not only appear more prepared and professional, but it also helps them remember you. Keep in mind that recruiters will meet hundreds of students throughout the day,

If you meet a recruiter and have a great talk discussion, you don’t want to find out that you’ve already run out of resumes. That will make it harder for them to get back in touch with you, or even remember you after a long day of meeting other students.

Allocate your time wisely

Career fairs are usually crowded, and you have a limited amount of time. You should have list of five to seven companies you’ll want to talk to. Make sure you go to the career fair as early as possible so that you can have enough time to talk to more companies.

Don’t start with the company you are most interested in. You should talk to one or two companies who are a bit lower on your list first to warm up. That way, when you do decide to go talk to the company you’re most interested in, you’ll already be warmed up.

Be confident

You need to believe in yourself, and recruiters need to see that, too. When introducing yourself, give the recruiter a firm handshake to show your power and confidence. Give your name clearly, and smile and talk naturally when talking with them.

These events can be awkward for the recruiters, too. Therefore, it will be refreshing for them to meet someone who’s relaxed, smiling, and wants to be there. They’re here to meet you, so don’t worry about trying to be anything other than yourself.

Build a personal connection if possible

It is important to build personal connections with the recruiters, and sometimes the easiest way to do that is to find common ground.

For example, introduce yourself, your background, and perhaps throw in some interests and hobbies to see whether you have anything in common. In addition, when talking to recruiters, don’t just ask job-related questions, you can ask where they’re from, where they went to school, or why they chose to work in that company.

When you build a personal connection with the recruiter, it’s easier for them to remember you, and it also helps you find out if your personality fits the company’s people and culture.

Remember to follow up

following-up

Networking doesn’t just stop when the career fair ends.

Following-up is just as important as talking to recruiters, as it’s the first step to you making a long-lasting connection. After talking to each recruiter, ask for their business card or contact information, and send a thank you note via email the day after the career fair.

The follow-up email doesn’t need to be too long, just remind them who you are and you can express appreciation or ask follow up questions.

 

In the end, just enjoy yourself and have fun. Even if no jobs come from it, career fairs are still a great way to practice networking and interviewing skills, and are great ways to help prepare you for the working world after graduation.

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Shirley Du

Shirley is a graduate student at Indiana University Kelley School of Business. She has been in the United States for three years, and comes from a city near Beijing. Her interests include traveling and doing volunteer works.


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