By Courtney on October 19, 2015
As a camps recruiter with almost 10 years of experience, every time I attend a career fair I’m amazed by the scope of candidates I meet. The nervous-as-all-get-out candidate, the won’t-quit-talking-about-themselves candidate, the CLUELESS candidate, the dressed-for-the-gym-candidate (or worse, the dressed-for-the-bar candidate). I wanted to share a few tips for making the most of your time at a career fair.
DRESS TO IMPRESS
Dress in a suit, or at least business casual. And try to wear clothes that fit appropriately.
LADIES - A skirt/dress needs to be close to knee length (can’t go wrong with well-fitting pants though), exposing cleavage is not appropriate, sleeveless is hard to pull off professionally. I know not everyone at this stage has the money to buy an outfit for this occasion only, so buy something you can wear to another event or even borrow from a friend.
GENTLEMEN – A suit (pants, jacket, tie) is best. Minimum you should be in dress pants & a collared shirt. The exception here MIGHT be a more casual field like IT. You MIGHT be able to get away with a more casual look. Talk to your career center and you can never go wrong over dressing
KEY POINT – you only get one chance to make a first impression and in this situation your presentation goes a long way
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Your career center will make a list of companies available to you, and often times they include the majors in which a company is targeting. Look into some of them & narrow down a list of companies that fit what you are looking for. Instead of wandering aimlessly around a room with a sea of tables, focus your hunt on 10-12.
For those 10-12 target companies, know a little bit about them. In general: how to pronounce their company name (or what their initials stand for), their industry/product, what type of clients/customers do they target. These days simply going to their website will give you a baseline to look prepared in this environment.
Search their jobs available (with your career center or their website). Find some that jump out at you and be prepared to ask more about what that particular job entails.
KEY POINT – if you walk up to a recruiter at a table and know even a LITTLE bit about the company, you will build credibility and jump higher on their list of candidates of interest.
PRACTICE YOUR INTRODUCTION
Get with your career center counselor or even close friends to practice what you might initially say to a recruiter standing at a table. Practicing it over and over will give you confidence and will make the words feel more natural to both you and the recruiter on the receiving end.
Do not walk up to a recruiter and say….”Ummm, so like what does your company do?” It is perfectly fine to be less familiar with every company, however focus on the list of 10-12 companies mentioned previously and know the basics about each company you plan to speak with.
A couple GREAT ways to start the conversation include:
These examples will impress the recruiter and get the conversation going.
Be sure you walk away from a table with a way to follow up. This could include a business card, flier with contact information, or clarity through your conversation how to apply for a job.
Follow up within 24-48 hours of the event. I’m always impressed when I receive follow up via email on my phone before I make it back to the airport for my outbound trip. Email is best and timing is everything!
If you are early in the application process, start a file of company contact info and tap back into these contacts once your timing is more appropriate.
I hope this helps you as you prepare for the next career event at your school. I hope to see you on campus soon!