PREPARING FOR THE CAREER FAIR
Q: Why should I attend the Career Fair?
A: Employers are searching for candidates to interview and hire for internships and paid positions. You can interview, network, and learn about companies and positions that interest you. Plus, you get the opportunity to practice your presentation skills.
Q: What should I expect to find at the Career Fair?
A: You'll receive a program which will include a floor plan with employers' booths/tables listed in alphabetical order. Meeting time with recruiters vary. Your advance preparation for the Career Fair is critical, since most employers attempt to quickly assess applicants to determine which ones they will want to interview after the fair. They may be recruiting for current or future anticipated openings.
Q: How should I prepare for the Career Fair?
A: Preparation is critical to Career Fair success. Follow these steps:
- Have a great résumé, since it markets your qualifications. It is key to getting an interview, so it should look and sound professional. It should be concise and to the point – no more than one page long. Prepare different résumés for different career objectives, and have them reviewed by a career counselor on your campus before distribution. Bring at least 30 copies printed on résumé paper. If you are interested in internships or other opportunities that require an emailed resume and cover letter, you may want to send them in advance to the recruiter and then follow up with contact at the Career Fair.
- Bring samples of your best work. If you have published articles, produced or edited video, provided content to a website or blog, share them with recruiters. Make digital or print copies of your work available, or provide an online address.
- Dress for success: Dress in a manner that shows professionalism, for proper business attire is often required on the job. First impressions will help determine whether you are given an interview. Your attire and grooming will indicate to the employer how much you care about yourself and the job, as well as your level of professionalism.
- Prior to the fair, check this website for a list of employers that will be attending. Identify those that interest you and spend time researching them. You want to walk into your conversation with them with an understanding of what the organization does and whether there is a fit between your skills and interests and the employer's needs.
- Practice introducing yourself -- walking up to employers and greeting them with a firm handshake. Prepare and rehearse a one- to two-minute introduction that includes your name, career interests and education. Market your skills and experience that are most relevant to the employer's needs. Focus on what you could offer the company. For example: "My name is Jane Smith. I am a senior, fluent in Mandarin, studying political science and my career goal is to become a foreign correspondent stationed in Hong Kong. I want to use the experience that I gained in my past internship with the Bronx Times Reporter as a staff writer. I need daily writing experience."
- Stay organized. Bring your briefcase, pen and paper to take notes, plus an expandable folder or canvas bag to organize materials that you will pick up at the Career Fair. If possible, try not to bring a book bag or backpack, since you want to convey a professional appearance.
Q: What else should I do?
A: Avoid late-afternoon arrival. Be prepared to stay long enough to meet all employers that interest you. Prioritize your time by first seeing your "top" employers, then, if time permits, explore opportunities with others. Be sure to include some of the smaller companies where you are more likely, for example, to get reporting and writing experience. If there is a long line at a table, return later so you do not waste time waiting. Be pleasant, polite, confident and professional. Hand over your résumé and introduce yourself. Ask appropriate questions about the mission of the company and the positions for which they're interviewing. (Do not ask about salary, benefits, how many hours you will work, etc.) If a recruiter does not have positions that interest you, ask whether there are others elsewhere in that organization whom you could contact. Thank recruiters for their time and ask for their business cards and the best way to follow up. Network with fellow job seekers by sharing information about internship and job leads, companies and their recruiting strategies and styles.
Q: What shouldn't I do?
- Expect to be offered an internship or job at the fair.
- Be afraid of the recruiters. Approach them with confidence.
- Drop off your résumé and walk away. Take time to market yourself.
- Interrupt. Patiently wait your turn.
- Lie about your abilities and skills.
- Cruise the booths with your friends.
- Monopolize the employer.
- Ask about salary and benefits.
- Complain about jobs, bosses or classes.
- Use negative words, like "can't" or "won't."
Q: Anything else I should do after the Career Fair?
A: Yes. Mail a thank-you letter to each representative with whom you spoke. This will help to remind them of you and affirm your interest in working for the organization. Reflect on your methodology, your execution and your results. What might you have done more effectively?
Q: Where can I get more help?
A: Check with your college's Placement/Career Services Office. They can help you prepare for the job fair. Practice interviewing, get career advice or have your résumé and cover letter reviewed by a counselor. Attend workshops such as How to Make a Job Fair Work for You, Dress for Success, Résumé Writing, and Interview Skills that may be offered through your Placement/Career Services Office.