How to Get the Most Out of a Career Fair
How are Career Fairs Different Than Job Fairs?
Career fairs are different than job fairs in that they offer an opportunity to learn about occupations, employers, and industries through direct contact with employer representatives. They do not have actual job openings to fill, but are informational in nature.
Here are some general guidelines to follow that can help you get the most benefit from your attendance at a career fair.
Before the Career Fair
- Research the employers who will be attending the career fair that are of interest to you by reading their literature, if available, and using library resources, including the Internet, to learn about them in advance.
- Develop some questions to ask the employer representatives and practice asking the questions with a friend. See sample questions list below.
- Identify specific experiences where you have demonstrated your skills.
- Highlight your key skills with specific examples to illustrate them.
- Be able to explain how your skills, interests, and values would fit with specific employers.
- Develop a strong resume and have copies ready for distribution.
Questions You May Want to Ask Representatives
- How many employees does your organization have?
- What goals does your organization have for the coming five years?
- What kind of entry-level positions exist within your organization?
- How many employees are in my area of interest?
- Does your organization hire on a continual basis or only at certain times of the year?
- How long does the hiring process take?
- What does your organization consider the five most important qualities in an employee?
- Are advanced degrees important? If so, in what areas? Is there a tuition remission program?
- What courses do you suggest I take in order to help make me a stronger job applicant?
- Is there a GPA cut-off in the recruiting process?
- What personality traits are important for success in your organization?
- As an entry-level employee, what can I expect to be doing 2, 5, 10 years from now?
- What made you choose this organization?
- How long have you been with the organization?
- What has your organization accomplished of which you are especially proud?
- What is your attrition rate for new employees?
- What percent of applicants are eventually hired?
- Do you expect your employees to be willing to relocate if necessary?
- What is the retention rate of your employees?
During the Career Fair
- Dress professionally in order to make a good first impression.
- Explore all your options by speaking with employers you may not have considered in the past.
- Make eye contact when introducing yourself.
- Give a firm handshake to get off to a good start.
- Smile and be polite— enthusiasm is an important quality.
- Take the initiative and engage in meaningful conversations with the representatives.
- Remember the representative's name; refer to their name tag if necessary.
- Listen carefully to what the representative has to say.
- Show confidence and be articulate.
- Ask questions to clarify information about the employer or industry.
- Offer a resume to the representative.
- Ask for a business card or write down the representative's name.
- Collect any employer literature that may be available.
- Make brief notes after each meeting with an employer representative.
- Remember the representatives are excellent resources of information about their organizations and career fields and can be very helpful in your career search and decision-making process.
After the Career Fair
- Mail a thank you letter to those representatives you want to follow up with so they are aware of your interest.
- You also may enclose a resume in this letter to point out your strengths.
- Complete applications that you may have received from employers during the career fair as a follow-up procedure to show your continuing interest in them.
- Make follow-up calls to employers in response to your conversations with their representatives at the career fair
- Check with the fair organizers for the names and addresses of employers who may have canceled their visit to the career fair, or those employers that you didn't get a chance to talk to during the event.