Career fairs can bring up a lot of emotions… mostly negative ones. They’re overwhelming and stressful and most of the time, students end up walking around feeling pretty clueless. Check out these eight tips to ensure you nail that first introduction and don’t sweat through your new suit.
Do your research
Find out which companies are coming to the career fair and research them. Companies will be much more impressed if you know a bit about them. Bonus points if you can talk about what you can bring to the role you’re applying for.
Nail your elevator pitch
Practice your 30-60 second elevator pitch, but don’t sound rehearsed. People remember stories, and a well-executed elevator pitch can leave a great impression. Make sure you highlight what makes you unique and connects you to their company. Your elevator pitch should make them want to talk to you longer and then take a second look at your resume at the end of that day.
Bring more resumes than you think you’ll need
Print out at least five resumes more than you think you’ll need before making your way to the career fair. Despite the prior research you’ve done on the companies who are present, you may come across a hidden gem unexpectedly and need that extra resume on hand.
Look put together
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many people come into career fairs looking like they just rolled out of bed. Dress for the job you want. If you’re not applying to jobs where a suit and tie is the normal dress code, you don’t have to wear that to the career fair. Look put together and professional, and make sure you feel confident, too.
Bring a friend for moral support
Going to a career fair with a friend can be a great way to ease your nerves and get (and give) some moral support. But don’t walk around together. Go to the fair together, pump each other up (we recommend an “Eye of the Tiger” duet), and then part ways, so you can focus on your individual career fair goals.
Show your willingness to learn
Companies often hear the same spiel from students when applying. Everyone knows the trick about spinning your “worst” quality into a tolerable one. But one of the most important things you don’t find on a resume is a willingness to learn. No matter your skills and experience, companies will teach you how they do things when you get there. An eagerness to learn is something that can’t necessarily be taught.
Ask intelligent questions
Once you have the company rep’s attention, you don’t want to waste it by asking cookie-cutter questions. Make a human connection by asking why s/he likes the company. Don’t make it all about you – learn something about them, too. Those connections can mean a lot more than just going through bullet points on a resume.
Keep note of the little things
The day can be chaotic and overwhelming, but the little things will count. Like remembering the name of the person you talk to. Pro tip for remembering their name: say it back to them after they introduce themselves. Say it again before you go so they know you were really paying attention to the conversation. Another little thing that counts is reaching out to the company rep after the career fair. Make sure to always get a business card and email them thanking them for their time.
When it comes down to it, just be yourself. Well, be your prepared self. If you can do that, these career fairs won’t be so scary.