Advice & Tips

Note: Students attending job fairs should plan to view the videotape "Connecting with Employers: Making the Most of a Job Fair." To view this tape, stop by the Office of Career Services in Ellis Hall. It will take approximately 15 minutes. In addition to the excellent information on the videotape, Career Development offers these tips for success at Career Fairs.

A career fair is a great way to meet prospective employers and find out where you may want to start your professional career. At a career fair, each employer will have a booth or table with literature on the organization available. You'll have a chance to meet recruiters, ask questions about their organizations and tell them about your qualifications.

Here's How to Make the Most of the Time You'll Spend at the Career Fair:

1. Prepare Yourself

Before you speak to anyone, it is important that you have given some thought as to what you want in a position. Giving thought to the questions below can help you more clearly express your interests.

  • What are your skills and abilities?

  • What are your career goals?

  • In light of the above, what type of experience are you seeking?

If possible, review listings of companies attending ahead of time. Determine which companies have the potential of meeting your needs and then research those organizations. Research resources could include: the Office of Career Development, internet, library, professors and alumni contacts. If you are unable to locate information, use some time at the beginning of the career fair to get literature from those in attendance, look over the literature and better prepare to approach a representative

2. Dress

Although career fairs are often promoted as "informal" events, there is little question that this occasion will be the first impression that you will make with an employer. Dress professionally, as if you were interviewing for a job. Avoid casual clothing, be neat, clean, well groomed and avoid excessive jewelry and perfume.

3. What To Bring With You

Several copies of your resume are a must! For career fairs it is generally easier to delete the career objective (unless you are targeting a single industry/occupational area) as representatives will frequently use your resume to make notes and comments about your qualifications. Other items which support your interests and abilities such as references, written work or a portfolio can also be helpful.

4. Communication: What To Say And Do
  • Shake hands and introduce yourself—"Hi, my name is __________ and I'm a (class year)(major).

  • Hand the representative your resume.

  • Take 1-3 minutes to describe yourself and demonstrate your knowledge of the organization and your "match" with the organization's needs. Use your company research to articulate what your strengths are in relationship to what you have read. Draw attention to those areas of your resume that you feel support your interests and qualifications. Express your interest in the organization.

  • Prepare sample question answers.

  • Demonstrate confidence and maintain good eye contact.
5. Gather Information
  • Ask questions that you have already identified or which are sparked by conversations with company representatives. These may include questions about organization mission, entry level positions, qualification requirements, training programs, growth opportunities or concerns/interests you have about the company.

  • Do not ask about compensation at this stage of the employment process. Some employers may choose to introduce the topic, but it is generally not wise for a candidate to do so.

  • Ask how you proceed to pursue opportunities, how to apply for positions, who is the contact person and what is the hiring timeline.

  • Gather literature and ask for a business card. Retain information for professional files.

  • Shake hands and thank the representative for her/his time.

  • Don't expect a job offer on the spot. This is only the first step.
6. Follow-Up

Send thank you/follow-up letters in a timely fashion (2-5 days).