Career fairs provide the opportunity to make an impression in a way that a resume cannot. You are able to make face-to-face connections with recruiters who will be making the hiring decisions for their companies. When meeting a recruiter, you want to stand out – for positive reasons of course. Here are some helpful tips on how to make a great first impression at your next career fair.
Dress professionally – First impressions are made in a few short seconds. Just as with interviews, when attending a career fair, dress in professional attire. Men: A suit and tie is preferred, but I know as a college student that can be an expense that is not manageable, in which case, a nice dress shirt, tie and clean pants will work great. Women: Suits are also preferred. Dress pants/skirt and a professional-looking top will also work. Do not wear jeans, sweatshirts, T-shirts or anything that is too tight or revealing. (I’ve seen my share of questionable attire, but the most interesting outfit I’ve come across at a career fair has to be a candidate who walked up to my booth in full leather chaps, cowboy boots and a cowboy hat.)
Bring your resume – Most employers want to have a brief conversation with you about your background, and your resume is a crucial part of that conversation! Make sure it is accurate and professional. If you do not have work experience or internships, make sure you add school projects and campus involvement to your resume.
Plan your attack – Almost every school will put out a list of employers that will attend and the positions the companies are recruiting for prior to the career fair. Take some time to research these companies before the fair, so you can be on point when you meet with recruiters. Come with a few good questions and examples of why you would be a good fit. Often at a fair, you will also receive a booklet with brief descriptions of the participating companies. Take a minute to read the company descriptions before you speak with a potential employer. As a recruiter, I know you will likely not know the ins and outs of each company’s industry, but there is nothing worse than a person coming up and asking, “So, what do you guys do?”
Sign up for on-campus interviews if offered – Many organizations will host next day interviews or even same day interviews. If you are really interested in the company, ask the recruiter if they are hosting either. It shows your immediate interest and puts you to the front of the line.