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 career fair. Select 5-7 employers that align with your interests, and rank the companies you're interested in speaking with, in order of importance.
- If you are attending the McCombs Career Expo: Explore the list of attending employers on the McCombs Career Expo page (click the Resources tab). Liberal Arts students can attend the Expo from 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm only. You may realistically only be able to visit with a limited number of recruiters, so arrive at the expo with a strategic plan of who you want to meet and the order you want to meet them.
Research the Employers: After you’ve prioritized which employers you plan to speak with, research the companies so you can:
- Understand what the company does. Look at the company’s website and review their history, press releases, mission/values statements, and jobs/career pages.
- Know how you would answer questions that ask why you want to work for the company and what makes you a good candidate.
- Develop questions to ask recruiters at the fair.
Practice, Practice, Practice: How comfortable are you introducing yourself to a complete stranger and sharing your career goals? Prepare a 30-second personal "elevator speech" to help you succinctly communicate your skills and experience and why you’re interested in the organization.
Work with a friend or make an appointment with a LACS career coach to practice your elevator speech and develop a bank of great questions to ask.
- If you are attending the McCombs Career Expo, don’t apologize for your Liberal Arts major. Help recruiters understand the value of a liberal arts degree and be prepared to speak of your internships, leadership and other experiences.
Prepare Materials: Have at least one resume for each company you plan to speak with, plus five or more to give to additional 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. Carry your resumes in a folder or padfolio for easy access.
- If you are attending the McCombs Career Expo, bring your UT student ID and arrive at the Career Expo by 2:45 pm. You will be required to show your ID for entry.
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. Check out our Dress for Success page for more help.
- If you are attending the McCombs Career Expo, review the McCombs Career Expo page and pay special attention to the dress code. McCombs will deny entry to any student who does not meet their dress requirements. You can also review their complete Business Attire guide for details.
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 practice before moving on to your top selections.
Waiting in Line: Try and get a feel for how long the recruiter likes to spend with each person. You can also eavesdrop politely on the conversations taking place ahead of you so when it's your turn, you don't go over the same ground.
Introducing Yourself: Smile and introduce yourself to each employer with a firm handshake. Use the short elevator speech you’ve been practicing. If you haven’t given the recruiter your resume by the end of the conversation, give them a copy and ask for a business card.
Take Notes: After each conversation with an employer, make notes about the conversation on the blank side of the business card you collected. 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) and anything unique about the interviewer or your conversation.
After The Event
Write a Thank You Email: Following up with an email is key! Write the recruiter to thank them for their time and reiterate your interest in the company/position. Using the notes you took at the event, you may also reference anything specific the two of you spoke about. The only time to not write a thank you email 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?
Making the Most of the McCombs Undergraduate Career Expo: download our workshop presentation.
Career Coaching: Schedule a LACS career coaching appointment.