It is fall career fair time once again. While the prospect of trying to pitch yourself to multiple strangers in the hopes that they will give you a chance at employment can seem daunting at first, with preparation and a healthy dose of self-confidence you can score the job or internship you’ve set your sights on. To help you get started here are some career fair do's and don'ts.
Do make sure to do your research: Look at the companies who will be attending ahead of time and pick out the ones that you are interested in. Once you’ve narrowed that down find as much information as you can on each company; where they are located, what they do, their company mission, etc. This information will give you a one up when it comes to meeting recruiters as you will seem more knowledgeable about the company and it will allow you to tailor your interview answers towards what the company is looking for.
Don’t show up underdressed: It’s far better to show up overdressed than under. Make sure that you look business professional and not like you just decided to stop over on a whim after class. First impressions are everything, especially with how little time you will have with each recruiter. How you look sends a message, make sure you are sending the message you want to be sending.
Do take multiple copies of your resume to the event: Have as many copies with you as the number of companies on your list, plus a few extra. You don’t want to be in the situation where you have three recruiters yet to visit and only one resume left. Having extra copies will safeguard against any accidents you might run into, such as copies getting damaged or lost, or deciding to visit another booth at the last minute.
Don’t show up without a plan: Know what companies are most important to you and where they are, then hit those first. Going in blind is never a good idea because you run the risk of running out of time and missing the companies you care about most. That doesn’t mean you should skip any booths that you aren’t sure about, they still might provide a great opportunity, but go to the ones that you know you care about first and use the remaining time to catch any you still want to check out.
Do practice your elevator pitch: Recruiters meet hundreds of students in the four hours they are on campus, how will you stand out? Make the most of the time that you have with each recruiter by getting their attention right from the start. Preparing a pitch that highlights who you are and what you can do for them is a great way to get their attention. Identify your goal(s), what you have to offer and what makes you unique, then organize everything into a 20-30 second pitch. Be sure to practice reciting your pitch with a friend or roommate so you’re ready to go when you get to the fair.
Don’t forget to follow-up: Sure career fairs aren’t as personalized a process as applying and interviewing with one company directly, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't follow-up with them! Thanking each recruiter you interviewed with for giving you their time through either a letter or email is a great way to not only maintain contact with them but also to make sure they remember you. A follow-up provides one last opportunity to highlight your strong points and how much you are interested in the company.
By following these tips and doing a little research of your own you’ll be ready for the career fairs on Sept. 27 and 28 at the Rochelle Gateway Center. For more information about career fairs and preparation be sure to check out the Johnson Career Center. See you there!