Career fairs are a great opportunity to explore your interests, learn more about different organizations, and become more skilled at job market research and networking. Career fairs in the U.S. typically help candidates make connections and learn more information internships and full-time roles you might want to apply for but there are not typically interviews or offers given to you at the event.
Take advantage of Career Design coaching labs and Canvas modules to generate effective profiles and resumes and learn effective networking and interviewing techniques. Then take advantage of our in person and virtual career studio to practice your professional introduction before the career fair.
Please see below for both virtual and in-person career fair and hiring event success tips.
Virtual Career Fair Tips
A virtual career fair is similar to an in-person career fair in that recruiters are available to talk to prospective hires. You can chat online with different employers and ask questions about available positions or industry trends (the only difference may be that in some cases, you may not be able to see them on video).
In return, they may ask you questions about your program of study and career interests. Be prepared, be yourself, and have polished electronic documents free of any spelling or grammatical errors ready to be shared and upload your resume ahead of time if this is an option.
Importantly, depending on the virtual career fair platform, employer and candidates may or may not be able to see each other on video so be sure to check out the platform being utilized ahead of time.
Some employers, rather than receive your resume at the event, may direct you to apply online. This is also one way they encourage you to apply for positions and is a positive sign you should apply.
Remember, it’s a conversation so remain open to their suggestions, even if they suggest a different role they suggest and follow through on all of their recommendations and email a thank you. Remember to note your observations and questions about the organizations you spoke with after the fair. Finally, many of the recommendations below for virtual career fairs are also relevant for in-person career fairs.
Before the Virtual Career Fairs:
- Identify Companies of Interest
- Understand who will be there. What companies will be attending? What industries are being represented? What size are the companies in attendance?
- Ask yourself what you are looking for. What are your career interests and goals? Which of the companies might offer employment related to your major or career interests?
- Do you have internships or other experiences that might make you attractive to a particular company? What are your strengths? Find the strengths in all your experiences.
- Consider other factors, e.g., geography—are there companies with branches in preferred locations? Would you prefer a startup or an established organization? Are they known for a particular work culture that would appeal to you?
2. Craft your Professional Introduction for use when meeting employers.
- Always know who you are talking to and who they represent (division or job function) to discuss your background’s most relevant aspects.
- Tailor your story for each company representative so that you can better address their needs.
- For example, if it is a startup and you have an entrepreneurial mindset, then emphasize that aspect. If the position requires a finance background, emphasize related coursework and experience.
3. Take advantage of Career Design coaching labs and Canvas modules to generate effective profiles and resumes and learn effective networking and interviewing techniques.
Day of the Virtual Career Fair:
- Download the employer’s Virtual Career platform ahead of time, check your audio, video, and chat functions.
- Follow the Virtual Career Fair’s employer instructions (for example, if you need to upload your resume, etc.)
- Make sure that you either blur your background or use a professionally appropriate background.
- Ensure that your environment is quiet, pleasant looking, and without distractions.
- Write up your professional introduction and have it readily accessible on your computer or device for when you enter the virtual space.
- When you begin meeting with employers, then you can copy and paste that introduction into chat.
- See above for more information on crafting your Professional Introduction and click on the link to our Professional Introductions page.
- Don’t forget to wear professional dress
- Don’t use slang or abbreviations in the chat.
- Take a few notes while the conversation is fresh in your mind to capture names, impressions, questions for future follow-up, or anything else of significance.
After the Virtual Career Fair:
- Review your Notes.
- Follow-up with employer recommendations if provided to you.
- Send thank you notes to employers
- See FAQs for more detailed advice on key aspects of follow up – a key element of the job hunting process!
Step by Step Guide for Success
- Participate in relevant coaching labs and other prep sessions to prepare.
- Plan ahead! Be sure to have your proper business attire ready to wear for career fairs.
- Review the list of employers attending the fair. You will be able to research each company and the opportunities they are recruiting for and filter by skills, location, and potentially CPT/OPT.
- Research employers’ websites to learn what the company does, where it does business, what its mission is, and something unique that interests you about the company. Be prepared to answer, “why do you want to work for this company”?
- Research these opportunities to see if your skills and experience match the qualifications they are seeking. For Northeastern hiring events, employers post jobs and internships in NUworks. If the jobs are not listed in NUworks, go to the employer website and look for the “Careers” section. If your skills and experience do NOT match well to the job description, this implies that you may not be the best candidate for that job opportunity. To be successful, focus your efforts on matching your skills and experience to the job description.
- Create a target list of employers. Identify employers that match your interests and goals and be prepared to discuss how your skills and experience match the skills and experience (job description) that the employer is looking for.
- Make a plan to speak with the employers on your target list. Stay up to date with the hiring event you are attending, be sure to check it before attending the fair, and map out your strategy ahead of time.
Prepare a short (30 -60 seconds) “professional introduction” to share with employers when you meet them.
My name is ________ (your name), and I am a (senior, Masters student, sophomore) in ___________(field/major). I will graduate in___________. I am interested in the _____________(co-op? full time?) _______________ (position title) position at ____________ (company name). I have the _____________ skills and experience that the job posting describes. _________ (the company name) interests me because__________________.
ADD something about yourself that is positive and memorable:
My last employer said ________________. I am ___________________.
Click here for additional Professional Introduction information and another sample professional introduction.
Additional Information for International Students
- Career Fairs in the U.S. offer excellent opportunities to talk with prospective employers and ask questions about positions which are posted on NUworks, positions you’ve heard about through networking, positions which have not been posted yet but might become available in the future, and positions posted on other platforms. You can ask questions that help you to determine if you’d be a good candidate with your skills and experience, ask for advice on what you can do to better position yourself for the future, and receive advice about the application and interview process.
- Career Fairs (virtual or in person) typically do not offer or schedule interviews at the event. The goal is to talk with the prospective employer for a few minutes, introduce yourself, and have a short conversation driven by your goal to ask questions and learn more about an opportunity or selection process.
- Research your first choice companies and review the positions posted.
- Don’t ask about CPT/OPT/ H-1B’s or visa assistance. Organizations first need to see that you may be a good candidate and to do this they need to learn about your skills, experience, and potential fit with the job and organization. Bringing up your visa needs too early is not a good idea- it may look efficient, but it’s rarely effective as they do not know at that time whether you would be a good fit for their open position. Use myvisajobs or GoinGlobal to identify which organizations have hired candidates in the past.
- If the career fair you are attending publishes which organizations are open to CPT/OPT, please note these and explore these organizations for roles that might be a fit for you. Not all career fairs will provide this listing.
- Attend the International Student Job Search coaching lab and other coaching labs or career fair programs.
- While we recommend you not bring up your visa status at a career fair, if you are asked about employment eligibility be sure to have an answer you’ve practiced that is easy to understand.
- Visit the Career Studio to customize your strategy and practice your introduction.