Making the Most of the Career Fair
Tips and techniques to help you prepare for, take advantage of and succeed at these events!
Make Your Resume Top Priority: Craft a professional-looking resume that really sells your strengths, experience, and accomplishments. Allow plenty of time for editing and feedback. Learn what makes a successful resume.
Strategize Your Approach: Check out the list of employers (available on the career fair page here) who will be attending the next career fair. Rank the ones you're interested in speaking with, in order of importance.
Research: How honestly and confidently could you answer the question, "Why do you want to work for this organization?" Prepare yourself by visiting the websites of each employer on your list. Review their history, press releases, rankings, mission/values statements, and jobs/career pages. Check out our online resources to help you research companies/organizations.
Practice, Practice, Practice: How comfortable are you introducing yourself to a complete stranger and sharing your career goals? Prepare a two minute personal "elevator speech" to help you succinctly communicate: * Why you're interested in each organization * How your skills and experience directly relate to their specific needs * One or two brief stories that highlight some relevant accomplishments * A few questions that you want to ask about the position and/or company
Work with a friend or, better still, make an appointment with a LACS career coach to practice your pitch and develop a bank of great questions to ask.
Prepare Materials: Have at least one resume for each company you plan to speak with, plus five or more to give to employers who attract your attention on the day. Print on good quality paper (at least 20 lb weight) found at the Texas Union copy center. Consider investing $25 or so for 100 printable business cards with your name, major, and contact information (available at Kinko's).
Dress to Impress: No suit? Buy or borrow whatever you need to move away from your usual student image. Looking sharp not only draws employers' attention, but will help you feel more confident in a professional setting. Think too about your nails, hair, and any other physical aspects that send a positive or negative message about your attention to detail and how seriously you're taking the job search. If you're on a tight budget, you can find great bargains on professional attire at a variety of shops, including resale and discount stores such as Marshalls, Ross and the Men's Warehouse. Check out our Dress for Success page for more help.
At The Event
Walk Through Once: Identify the locations of your selected employers but be open to others that pique your interest. If you're still feeling less than confident, select one of your lower-choice employers so you can develop a level of comfort speaking with them before moving on to your top selections.
Waiting in Line: Eavesdrop politely on the conversations taking place ahead of you so, when it's your turn, you don't go over the same ground. Try and get a feel for how long the recruiter likes to spend with each person. If you find yourself talking incessantly and see them start to look around the room, at their watch, or the person behind you, take the cue and bring the conversation to a close.
Take Notes: Collect business cards from everyone you speak with and use the reverse to make notes about your last conversation. The more people you meet, the more your memory is likely to become a blur. Jot down key points about the conversation (including anything you may have said you would do), maybe something unique about the interviewer, and whether or not they said it was okay to send a follow-up email.
After The Event
Follow-up Appropriately: Whether or not you're offered an interview (and certainly after you've had one) it's often a good idea to write to the recruiter to remind them of your meeting. The only time to ignore this advice is if an employer asked you specifically not to contact them.
Reflect: Career success doesn't just involve getting the job you want but working for an organization that shares your values and provides an enjoyable environment. Think about your connection with each recruiter. To what extent could you see yourself working alongside them? What impression did they give about the kind of people who fit their corporate culture?
Be Realistic: Don't expect to get an immediate job offer based on a relatively short (and public) discussion with recruiters. Consider the career fair experience as one of many touch points on your road to exploring one or several compelling career paths.
Want More Information?
Career Coaching: Schedule a LACS career coaching appointment by calling 512-471-7900.
Liberal Arts Stories: LACS collects student, alumni and recruiter stories which you may find interesting and helpful in all stages of your internship or job search.
- Employer Tips: Learn career fair do's and don'ts according to past participating recruiters.
- Distinguish Yourself, Student Advice: Read Geography senior Kevin Kalra's story about how to approach recruiters as people, not just someone who might give you a job.
- Stand Out, Recruiter Advice: Learn how to stand out in a highly competitive job market by reading Goldman Sachs recruiter Gemma Thompson's story.
Download the Making the Most of the Career Fair handout.