If you are attending a career fair this year, mark your calendar, and free up your schedule. Even if you aren’t quite certain about the career path you want to take, career fairs are a great way to hold quick informational interviews with employers, as well as an opportunity to practice and sharpen your networking skills.
The idea of introducing yourself and speaking with hiring managers and employers may seem a little intimidating at first, but realize that employers present are there for only one reason: to get to know you. So, maximize this opportunity by following these tips on how to network with and show your desired potential employers that you are a great fit for their company:
1) Research the Companies
In today’s tech-savvy job market, the standard of the quality and depth of potential candidates’ questions is at an all-time high. There’s absolutely no reason for you to ask questions that can be answered with a simple search engine query. One of the best ways to impress a hiring manager is to show you’ve researched the basics of the company by asking questions that dig deeper at the company’s core values, practices, and culture.
First, figure out which companies interest you the most at your campus’ career fair. Then, go above and beyond by learning everything you can about a company by reading reviews, and then use this knowledge as a springboard for follow-up questions.
2) First Impressions
Even though career fairs aren’t exactly a full-on interview, you are still creating a first impression as a professional. That means that you should dress for your career fair just as you would dress for an interview. In addition to wearing the proper attire to make a professional first-impression, you should also treat every meet-and-greet with potential employers with the utmost professionalism as well. A solid, simple firm handshake followed by a “Hi, my name is...”
3) Be Succinct
You’ve researched…you’ve dressed to impress…so now how do you actually network? The most important thing to remember is that after you introduce yourself, keep it short and simple. A long, winding life story puts you at a risk of losing interest from your employers. Be concise about:
- Who you are
- What you want to do
- Your questions
4) Follow Up
After you’ve delved into a solid conversation about your professional life and shared your in-depth knowledge about the company, always end the conversation by asking for contact information. Most of the time, employers and hiring managers carry business cards. In exchange, it’s critical to leave them with a copy of your resume, or even samples of your portfolio if you happen to be a design degree student.
Go home and send them a quick e-mail to continue your correspondence, thanking them for their time and asking any further questions you might have. Remember to stay organized—because of the large number of companies present at the career fair, it’s easy to mix up names and companies. Finally, check if they are on LinkedIn and add them to your connections.
If you follow these four steps before your next career fair, you’ll be on your way to building a strong, solid network that will better your chances of landing a great job in the future. Career fairs are an ideal way to provide you with face-time with a potential, future employer, so be prepared to take full advantage of the resources provided by the career fair at your campus.
About the Author: This article was contributed by CareerBliss.com, a career community dedicated to helping people find happiness in the workplace.