September 21, 2018

3 Steps to Prepare for Career Fairs

Follow Weatherhead's Career Management Office (CMO) on Twitter @weatherheadcmo.

Career Fair season is upon us, and it is time to think “what do I want to tell to a potential employer?”

Career Fairs are busy and can be a bit overwhelming. Students are streaming up and down each row, and larger companies have long lines. The environment might cause some students to completely blank when meeting a recruiter. The only way to avoid being flustered and forgetful in front of recruiters is by being prepared.

1.) Research the Companies: Preparation is key with most everything in life. You need to determine your target companies prior to the Career Fair. Research those companies and come prepared with questions for each of them. For instance, if you notice Company A has an internship opportunity that you are interested in, then apply to the position before you go to the Career Fair. When you get to the fair, you can mention that you recently applied to the internship and ask questions about that role. Or, if you see a company that does not have opportunities listed on their website, you can ask that recruiter whether any opportunities will be available later on in the year or next year. This shows your level of interest. 

2.) Practice Makes Perfect: Before you meet your target companies at the fair, do a practice run on another company. Every company is important, but it is alright to talk first to a recruiter at a company that you are less interested in pursuing. This will help with your first time jitters of talking to someone new, and you'll be prepared for the recruiters at companies where you really want to work. 

3.) Prepare Talking Points: The last (and most important) part is determining what you want to point out to each recruiter. Are you exceptional at data and love a big spread sheet to tackle? Do you work well in a team and like to take a leadership role? Note your unique traits and add the proof by stating a project you worked on or a prior internship. Be concise, to the point and, when possible, end with a question. Be aware of time and don't take too much time with each recruiter. There are a lot of students and recruiters wanting to talk to as many students as possible. 

Bonus tip! Offer your business card and/or resume, and ask for the recruiter’s business card. If they don’t have one, then immediately write down their name after you are done speaking with them. Follow up with each recruiter you spoke to the next day, either via email or LinkedIn. Remember to state where you saw them and note something about the conversation that would help them to remember you.

Present your best self by researching each company, preparing questions, dressing in business professional, and most of all - stay confident! No weak handshakes and look the person in the eye when you meet them. Recruiters know you are searching for a role. This is your time to find out more about the companies. Dive in and don’t be shy!

Put these tips to use at the University Career Fair on Thursday, October 4 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Register now through Handshake!

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