Imagine an auditorium full of companies who have paid money for the chance to meet you. No, this isn’t a dream. It’s a career fair. Career fairs are the place to be if you are looking for an internship, job, or just to network. A career fair is the perfect window of opportunity for breaking into corporate America – make sure you aren’t overlooked. Here are five things you can do to stand out from the crowd:
1. Bring copies of your resume- and make sure it is perfect.
I’m sure you’re sick of hearing this, but your resume really can make or break you landing that interview. Recruiters leave career fairs with giant stacks of resumes. Poor formatting or grammatical errors can almost guarantee your resume a spot in the “nope” pile. Take advantage of your school’s career center! They are there to help you and would be happy to schedule an appointment to proofread your resume. Don’t have a resume yet? They’ll help you write one.
- Pro tip: Printing your resume on cardstock can make it feel more professional and help it stand out.
2. Dress like you’re going to a job interview.
If you walk into a career fair in your jeans and a hoodie, you might as well be wearing a sign that says, “I don’t care as much as these other people.” Spend some time planning your outfit for that day. Ideally, you want to wear something that is professional, but still showcases your personal sense of style. If you still aren’t sure what to wear, ask a professor for advice. As a general rule of thumb, you can never be overdressed.
3. Be sure to do your homework.
There is almost always a full list of career fair attendees available on your school’s website. Write down the names of the companies that interest you the most and do some research. Bring your notes on the day of the fair to give yourself a quick refresher before speaking with them. This will save time by allowing you to go directly to the booths you know you are interested in and will allow for a more easy- flowing conversation.
4. Ask all the questions.
This is your chance to get insider information! Take advantage of this opportunity and don’t be afraid. Ask about their interview process and what you can do to improve your resume or stand out in the application process. Through your research, you should also be able to ask some more specific questions about their company. For example, “I saw on your website that you are hiring for such-and-such position. What particular traits or skills are you looking for in that role?” Finally, ask for the recruiter’s business card or email address so you can follow up.
5. Follow up. Follow up. Follow up.
Did I mention that you should follow up? A week or so after the career fair, send an email to the recruiter you spoke to. First of all, thank them for speaking with you at the career fair. This will help them place you, as they most likely will not have remembered you by name. Let them know if you have applied for a position or taken action to be a better candidate for their company. If you can, bring up something unique that will help them remember your conversation. This helps to humanize you through the computer screen. It’s harder to say no to a human.
- Pro tip: Finish the email off with a question, so they are more likely to respond.