1) Research Employers Most career fairs are organized by the Career Services office on campus. So, naturally, they will have a list of all events planned on campus and all of the employers who plan to attend each event. Once you have the list, look for potential employers in your career field. Remember – depending on your major, don’t worry about whether or not a company’s focus is in your specialty. For example, an IT company will also look for accountants, marketers and other managers. You may find your major useful in an unlikely place.
Next, go online to learn more about each company via their website – read their mission and values statements, look through their press releases or news sections, and look for information about the services they offer.
Then, look through the Careers section of their site to read about what it’s like to work for the company and the benefits offered. Look through their list of open positions and see if there are any in your career field.
Also, you can usually find links to a company’s Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn profiles on their website. There, you can gain even more information – often first-hand from employees – about what it’s like to work for the company. Once you’ve selected your “top 10” companies from the list, you can target your networking efforts at the career fair – and ask intelligent questions about working for the company.
2) Prepare Your Elevator Pitch Your elevator speech is an important element of the networking process. This 30-second introduction will give you a chance to make a great first impression while showcasing your skills, knowledge and personality. In a nutshell, you want to introduce yourself, state why you’re interested in working for a particular company, and provide some background on your skills and how you’re qualified to work in your major field by talking about your strengths and citing relevant examples of your work. For more details about writing your elevator speech, read this.
3) Prepare Your Resume After you’ve made a great first impression with a recruiter, you’ll likely want to leave your resume. The Career Services office on campus can help you write your resume if you don’t have one already. A few things to remember when writing: use keywords that are appropriate to the types of jobs that you’re interested in, cite examples of your accomplishments not just job descriptions for positions that you’ve held, think about transferrable skills and how you can include them on your resume, and don’t forget to double check your spelling/grammar. For even more resume tips, click here.
4) Dress Professionally And last, but not least, choose appropriate attire. While you’re likely to dress fairly casual for class, consider a career fair to be the equivalent of a job interview. Men should wear slacks, a button down shirt and possibly a tie and jacket. Women should wear a pants suit, a skirt or an appropriate dress. Remember, when you walk up to an employer’s table at the career fair, their initial impression of you will be based your appearance. Look the part of a professional.
Career fairs are a great way to network with employers and begin the process of applying for your first job after college. With just a little preparation, you could be on your way to launching that amazing career you’ve been dreaming about. Good luck! .