Career fairs are a great way to look for a job / part-time job / internship. Whether you are a young professional, a fresh graduate or a student, career fairs will have great opportunities up for grab.
If you are planning on attending career fairs, make sure you are prepared to successfully navigate your way to your next career opportunity.
Define Your Goals
Success only occurs when you can clearly measure your accomplishments. So take a moment to decide what you would like to get out of this opportunity, define achievable goals and a clear action plan.
- Are you here to find out about opportunities within specific organizations and learn how to apply? Great, what are those companies? How many would you like to approach? What information do you need to find out?
- Are you here to overcome your fear of approaching employers and practice your business skills? Fantastic, how many employers will you be approaching today? What would you like to communicate?
- Or are you confused about your career options, and wanting to explore what you can do with your degree? Who will you be talking to? What do you want to ask?
2. Research Companies & Prioritize
It’s important to study what companies will be present at the fair and understand what they do. Chances are, you won’t have time to speak to all of them, so make sure you pick the companies relevant to your goals and prioritize them accordingly.
Extra Tip: Do not dismiss companies just because you have never heard of them, they may have great career opportunities and exciting projects to offer. If you don’t know a company, take the time to research it to make sure you are not missing out on a great opportunity.
3. Prepare Your Pitch
Set yourself apart and approach each company with a prepared pitch.
Who you are (name, major, year in school) / What you can do OR what you have done / What your relevant strengths, skills, experience and assets are (related to your job target or goals) / What your goal for the career fair is and why.
4. Give Copies Of Your Updated CV
Your CV should be up to date and you should have brought plenty of copies with you. You want to make sure all your targeted companies have your CV by the end of the fair. If you do not have your CV with you, or if you realize your CV is not up to date, make sure you ask for the representative’s contact details so you can send them a digital version after the career fair.
5. Be Curious Without Sounding Uninformed
Come prepared with questions to ask. Asking questions is a great way to build a rapport, show enthusiasm and get noticed. Recruiters value candidates who show interest and demonstrate the ability to take initiative. However, refrain from asking questions for which the answers can be found on their website. The last thing you want to do is sound ignorant and unprepared.
Extra Tip: Remember that people love to talk about themselves, so why not ask the representative about their professional background and/or what they like the most about working in that company.
6. Watch Your Manners
This can sound obvious but unfortunately, many employers complain about the lack of manners and social skills of young graduates. So do yourself a favour and make sure you get the basics right:
- Be polite and respectful to EVERYONE at the fair
- Say “Good morning”/ “Good afternoon”
- Introduce yourself with confidence
- Smile and make eye-contact
- Don’t take up too much of their time, especially if other people are waiting in line
- Say “Thank you for your time”
- Always check with the representatives BEFORE taking materials from their tables
7. Ask For Business Cards
It is important you collect the contact details of the people you talk to, especially those who are of interest to you. You may not be able to ask all your questions or share enough information about yourself, so make sure you can continue the conversation after the career fair.
If they do not carry business cards, dare to ask for their name and contact details. The whole point of a career fair is to build a network, so make sure you know whom you are talking to and can reach out to them later.
Yes, the whole point of a career fair is to build a network. You may not find your next career opportunity today, but the network you build could be leading you to it. Engage EVERYONE—recruiters and job seekers—in conversations at the career fair. You never know who may have valuable information, insights or contacts that could help you in your job search.
9. Take Notes
It’s hard to keep track when you’re meeting with multiple employers in a busy environment. Write down notes on the back of the business cards you have collected or on your notepad, so you have a reminder of who you spoke to about what. (Especially if recruiters give you instructions on how to apply)
Extra Tip: Write down something specific/personal about each person you meet. You can then refer back to it in your follow up email. This will set you apart by showing you were truly paying attention.
10. Follow Up!
It is one thing to meet a lot of people and collect business cards, but successful job seekers are those who will go the extra mile by following up.
Help them remember you by sending a polite, professional thank you note within 24 hours of the event. Thank them for their time. Let them know what interested you from your conversation.
Extra Tip: Make sure you follow recruiters’ instructions. If they ask you to send them a copy of your resume, cover letter and transcript within a week, make sure you do so in a timely manner. If they inform you that their preferred mode of contact is via e-mail, then follow up using e-mail only.
Would you like some support in identifying and going after your next career move? Do you need help making sure your CV is powerfully convincing? Are you wondering what other avenues you could take to find exciting opportunities? Do you simply need help in finding a new job? ….. We can help! Check out our Career Services www.momentum-cc.com
Emeline Roissetter, Founder / Professional Coach, MomentuM Coaching & Consulting