Whether you’re looking for a job, and internship, or simply just looking to get a look at what the hiring process is like, attending a career fair is a must-do. However, it’s easy to become intimidated when it feels like your entire school is there walking around in business attire and fancy leather portfolios.
This post was initially going to include my tips for creating a game plan, chatting with recruiters (even if you’re an introvert) and rocking the interview to secure that dream job. HOWEVER, I realized that I have so much #wisdom to offer up that I’m splitting this post into 2 parts!
This part will focus on what you can do to prepare before the career fair, and next week I’ll focus on being at the career fair. Sound good? Let’s get started!
Go In With A Game Plan
A few weeks before the career fair, your school will probably publish a list of all the companies attending. Take a few minutes to peruse the list. Highlight or star companies that you’re interested in speaking with. These can be companies for which you’ve already applied for an internship or a job, or even just companies who you want to learn more about.
Make sure to research diligently! Oftentimes, companies who are known for a certain field of work might be hiring different majors. For example, a chemical company might be looking to hire accountants instead of chemists at this particular career fair. Search for companies in your field, but also recognize that your skills might be useful in other sectors!
Career fair tip #1: Search for companies in your field, but also recognize that your skills might be useful in other sectors!
Once you have a list of companies written down, highlight each company as an “A” company or a “B” company, depending on how important this company is to you. From these groupings, you can create a game plan and know exactly which booths you want to hit. The career fair may last 4 hours, but you don’t want to be there the whole time just wandering aimlessly amid the recruiters!
I like to start off with a few “B” companies. That way, I can get my elevator pitch down (more on this later) and become more comfortable with chatting up the recruiters. After I had some great conversations, I hit up the “A” companies!
Look the Part
I’m not going to touch on business attire because I think it’s kind of boring and there are 902834 internet articles about it. I will tell you that I usually hit up LOFT for some great (but not stuffy) business pieces, and I wear super comfortable black flats from my high school orchestra days. They’re not the cutest, but they’re broken in and comfy!
(I’m going to sound like your mom, but) those stiletto pumps are cute in the store, but your feet will be killing you after 90 minutes of standing on your feet on a wood or concrete floor. Take the L and wear the flats.
Career fair tip #2: Take the L and wear boring flats instead of your cute heels. Your feet will thank you.
Prepare Your Resume
In terms of carrying your stack of resumes around, any clean black folder will do. You can buy a nice leather portfolio with a pen and a pad of paper in it at the bookstore for $$. You can also pick up a black folder on the cheap. If you go with the folder option, make sure that you can comfortably fit a pen and a small pad of paper in it. That way, you can jot down notes after you talk to recruiters (more on this in the next post!).
Make sure to print out at least 5 more copies of your resume than you’ll think you need. You might want to talk company that wasn’t on your list. Or you might end up handing your resume to two people at the same company.
I’ve heard that printing out your resume on thicker paper can make it stand out, but I think just printer paper will do. Make sure to stick them in your folder as soon as you print so they don’t get wrinkled or bent!
A little tip I learned from my career center was to (lightly) take a pencil and write the name of each company in the top left-hand corner of each resume you plan to hand out. Doing this can be handy for two reasons –
- 1. If you have slightly different copies of your resume for different companies, it will help you keep them straight.
- 2. It shows the recruiter that you did your company research and thought about coming to their booth before the event.
Being prepared is half the battle! If you look great and have a game plan going in, you’ll be ready to sweep those recruiters off of their feet.
Master The Elevator Pitch
When you approach a recruiter, you want to immediately let them know who you are and what you’re about. The easiest way to do this is what’s called an “elevator pitch.” It’s a quick 30-second schpeel about you, your major, and why you’re qualified to work at this company.
I’m going to be honest with y’all. I THINK ELEVATOR PITCHES ARE WEIRD. It’s not super often that you meet someone for the first time and just rattle off facts about yourself. BUT. Career fairs are a bit different. The whole point is to convince the recruiter that you’re the A+ man for the job.
But how do you squeeze all of these facts into under 30 seconds? I’ve come up with a little fill-in-the-blank sample elevator pitch that you could probably turn into a Mad Libs game. To access it, all you have to do is sign up for our email list! And don’t worry, we’re not going to spam you (Old Navy and Target, cough cough).
We only send out emails once a month, plus you’ll get access to our ENTIRE LIBRARY of free goodies, including a printable healthy grocery list and blog checklist. Go go go!
(P.S. If you’ve already signed up for our email list, you already have the password! It should be the first email that you ever recived from us, if you’re searching your inbox.)
With a little preparation and research, you’ll be ready to rock the career fair!