A Career Fair provides a student with an opportunity to learn more about particular employers, show interest in potential jobs, and create a connection with recruiters while branding themselves with a variety of organizations.
A Career Fair is different from a job fair in that not all employers have employment opportunities. A Career Fair is an opportunity for an employer to brand their organization on campus and educate potential applicants on career paths, their hiring processes, etc.
Researching a company will help you ask relevant questions to employers. There are several resources provided by Career Design that will help you research the employers attending. Take these steps to gain a comprehensive look at the companies:
- Search NUcareers to review the employers registered for the Career Fair and the positions they are recruiting for.
- Research the companies and visit their websites to learn more about their products, services and employment opportunities for college students.
Choose five companies that you are very interested in learning more about and then select 5 additional companies you would also like to speak to at the fair. Plan to visit your lower priority companies first so you can practice your approach. Then proceed to your “top priority” companies when you’re ready.
Be sure your resume reflects all of your work experience including internships and co-op positions. You should also list your campus activities and the volunteer opportunities you have participated in recently. If you do not have a resume, make sure to review the Resume section of the this website and complete a draft of a resume.
Federal regulations may prevent some employers from accepting your paper resume. In this instance ask the recruiter if you can leave your name and contact information. You must apply online through NUcareers or the company’s website (sometimes both) to be considered for a position.
Due to the limited amount of face-time you will have with each employer during the Career Fair, you will have to practice a “professional introduction” which should advertise your skills and experience to a recruiter. Be sure to have specific examples you want to use when you visit a company’s table at the Career Fair. Verbally rehearse your “introduction” before the fair to make sure your message is clear and concise. Also anticipate interview questions and practice your responses.
Know your visa status beforehand and which jobs you will and will not be eligible for with a US company and identify which participating employers will consider hiring international students. Do not visit companies that say they hire US Citizens or Permanent Residents only. When speaking with employers – be sure to focus on your skills, experiences and interest in the company and not your visa status. It may also help to research which companies have branch offices in your home country.
Career Design offers a workshop before the Career Fair where you can get first-hand advice and helpful tips on how to be successful at the Career Fair.
Students want to be sure to present a professional image at the Career Fair. Decisions are made more quickly at a career fair than at a regular interview, so your image is crucial. Business attire is a must, as is good grooming. Be sure to try on the clothes you intend to wear in advance and make sure all items are cleaned, ironed, and fit appropriately. Here are helpful guidelines:
|Wear a two-piece suit, or a nice pant suit||Wear a two-piece suit|
|Wear a button down shirt or blouse with a conservative neckline||Wear a white or light blue button down shirt|
|If wearing a skirt suit, the skirt length should be no more than 2” above the knee||Wear a conservative tie (whether colored and patterned)|
|Closed-toe shoes. Remember that you will be walking on artificial turf when selecting what size and type of heel to wear (1.5 or 2 inches heel is appropriate)||Wear business-style leather shoes|
|Hair styled neatly (i.e. away from face or pulled back)||Clean shaven or neatly trimmed facial hair|
|Wear understated make-up and small earrings||Your socks should match your suit|
|Carry a briefcase or portfolio instead of a purse or backpack||Carry a briefcase or portfolio instead of a backpack|
Turn your cell phone off! Allow yourself enough time to spend at the fair. Career fairs don’t happen that often – so make the most of the opportunity. Try to arrive early if possible since the first hour is usually the slowest. Be independent! Approaching an employer by yourself (vs. with a group of friends) shows that you’re confident, prepared and ready to speak with a recruiter. Make a good impression! Greet the employer and introduce yourself. Be sure to smile, make eye contact and use a firm handshake. Demonstrate your knowledge of the company’s mission including its products and services. Remember to ask the employer if they have any questions for you to answer.
Many companies offer students giveaways and free stuff. It’s all right to pick up an item or two, but don’t leave recruiters with the impression that you are shopping for “free gifts.” Remember, you get ONE chance to make a first impression, so make it one that you want employers and recruiters to remember you by! Also, many employers are going to be very popular with students, and the lines may be daunting. If you’re standing in line, don’t be shy to talk to other people. More jobs are filled by networking than any other means.
During the Career Fair, be sure to get the recruiter’s name and a business card whenever possible. Jot down notes after speaking with a recruiter so you can personalize the thank you notes you send afterward. Once the Career Fair is over, you first will want to get organized:
- Review your conversations and what you learned from employers.
- Organize business cards and other company materials.
Another important step is to send a thank you to the recruiters you spoke to at the fair (email or snail mail). This reaffirms your interest in the position and company. Things to include in your thank-you note:
- Remember to refer to the date and location of the fair.
- Highlight parts of the conversation you had with the recruiter so it makes it easy for them to remember you.
- Be sure to include a copy of your resume.
In addition to a thank-you note, you will want to call or email employers to ask about the status of the positions and express your continued interest. Sometimes recruiters will collect resumes and keep them on file months after a career fair. That is why following up with them is crucial.