After you have gotten your Business Administration degree Financial Accounting specialization or other degree specializations… your learning is still not over. Follow this career services master’s tips on how to knock ‘em dead at a career fair!
1. Look the part. First things first, ensure you have showered, shaved, brushed your hair and teeth and appear as though you are ready for an interview. When attending a career fair you are really going on several ‘mini–interviews’. Each table you stop by will have someone affiliated with the company. This is your chance to make a good first impression.
2. Sharp dressed. Dressing for success includes a pressed button down shirt with pressed dress pants. A suit is a great choice too. Opt for neutral colors (navy, grey, black, tan) with a white, cream or light blue shirt under the coat. You can also opt for something a little more casual such as a white polo with khaki’s. It’s important your clothes are wrinkle and odor free– I’m sure a friend or family member would be happy to give you a laundry lesson if needed. Dress as though you are going on an interview — many career fairs will offer employers the option of interviewing on the spot!
3. Prepare your resume. You can get assistance from your local Career Services Advisor on this; it is vital for your job search. Once you have a final, pristine draft of a resume you’ll want to print enough copies to give at least one to each employer (see point 4). You may print your own resume on resume paper, or take it to your local copy shop to have resumes printed there.
4. Do your homework. Investigate to find out what businesses are going to be at the career fair. This can usually be done simply by calling or emailing the organizer — they generally advertise participants prior to the fair as well. Research the companies to pinpoint the ones you are most interested in. Tailor a copy of your resume to those employers for a special touch, and make sure you meet the representative at their table. There may be lines of people waiting to meet with certain companies, but be patient. You may only pinpoint 4 or 5 businesses you wish to work for, but it is important to visit all the tables at the fair — you never know where your next career may come from!
5. Fight hunger Eat lunch/breakfast or have a snack before arriving at the fair. There is nothing worse than trying to make a good impression with a growling stomach; or eating all the candy at each vendor table to tide yourself over. Opt for something that will last for the duration, such as chicken or pasta — not a candy bar that will leave you jittery and shaky by the end of the event. It is also important to get your sleep so you don’t look like a zomb ie they day of the fair.
6. No smoking. Refrain from smoking or chewing tobacco prior to the career fair. If you must get your fix before going, be sure you brush your teeth and chew gum on the way to the fair. Ask a trusted friend or family member to sniff you out to ensure you are smoke smell free.
7. Going up! Prepare your elevator speech — this is a 30–second “about me” summary that you can give to each table you visit. This should include your education, experience and skills that will benefit the company you are speaking with. Something as simple as “Hi, I’m Jane and I am going to be finished with the Accounting Bachelors program here in March. I have 2 years of tax prep experience and I am excited to put my skills and education to use in an Accounting related position.” It is vital to be polite, positive and poised when giving your elevator speech.
8. TMI. When discussing yourself at a career fair it is very important not to discuss your personal life, issues, concerns or needs. Keep the conversation professional and career–oriented. Do not discuss your family, health, money or mental stresses. These are things to be discussed with family and friends — not an employer.
9. Card, please. Ask each person you speak with if you may have a business card. This will give you contact information for follow up after the fair. Sending a short “nice to meet you”, “thank you for speaking with me”, or “I’ve attached my resume for the Accounting position we discussed on Thursday” letter or email will put you ahead of the pack when it comes to interviewing and hiring.
10. Make the most of it Networking is the name of the game at a career fair so it is important to utilize your time wisely. Network with as many employers as possible and even other job seekers. You may find others who are in a situation similar to you — or someone you may be able to help with a referral or contact. Never underestimate the power of “a friend of a friend of a friend...” when it comes to your job search. Don’t spend all your time collecting freebies from the employer tables — make the most of your time at the event.