How to Impress at a Career Fair
By Athena Aizat
Now that you know how career fairs can help in your job search, perhaps it is time you attend one. But be sure to stick to the following guidelines if you want to raise your employment chances at a career fair!
With so many employers present at a single venue, it is important to treat a career fair as you would a job interview. First impressions do count, so be sure to look kempt and presentable. Dress in professional attire (i.e. no shorts and slippers), but wear comfortable shoes as you could be standing in line and walking around a fair bit. Your conduct and mannerisms are also key in making a good first impression. Politeness, confidence and a firm handshake should stand you in good stead.
Supplies at hand
Besides a pen and notebook, you should also bring along 10 or more copies of your resume to distribute to employers. You can take it a step further with a portfolio showcasing at least five of your best works.
Perfect a pitch
Recruiters only have a set amount of time for each person they meet, so you only have several minutes to dazzle them. Keep in mind that at most career fairs, a company will not hire you on the spot. You are more likely to be shortlisted as a potential candidate, so avoid bombarding the recruiter with a laundry list of your academic qualifications, work experience, co-curricular activities, etc.
Instead, think of it as an elevator pitch where you only have two minutes to impress a potential employer. Ideally, the pitch should be a sharp and concise summary of your skills, experiences, and what you are looking for.
Most career fairs have information on participating companies on the event’s official web site. After identifying the companies that you are interested in, conduct thorough research to understand their corporate profile, company culture, and who they are looking for. You can then impress hiring managers with your knowledge on their company, and ask relevant questions to help you glean more insight. Being underprepared can show a lack of interest and initiative, so do your homework before you approach an employer.
In a career fair’s busy environment, it may be hard to keep track of the different employers you have met. You can collect business cards and jot down notes on the back as a reminder of your encounters. But don’t stop there – take the effort to email or call the employers you have met several days after the job fair. Conducting a follow-up ensures that your name and application spring to the top of the pile when the recruiters start shortlisting candidates for the position.