How to Prepare for a Career Fair

Career Fairs come and go throughout the year but how can one be certain they left a lasting impression with recruiters?  Being a young adult in search of a job or internship is a very exciting time, however it can also be very stressful. In order to make attending a career fair less stressful, it helps to be prepared. At the Emerging Talent Recruitment Conference hosted by the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing, one of the keynote speakers, Rachel Mushahwar of Intel inspired the room of students with her adventurous life story and career advice. One piece of advice that resonated with the room was when she said, “You have to start before you’re ready, because you will never be 100% ready, so why wait?” This statement is absolutely right. In order to be successful you have to take a chance even if you are not 100% ready because you never know what may come of it. The same thing goes for attending a career fair. Committing yourself to attend a career fair is the first leap in the right direction when it comes to finding a job or internship.

While preparing for the career fair, I encourage job seekers to be confident and be willing to put themselves out there. You don’t have to be 100% ready for the career fair, but you should be career-fair-photoprepared. There are many things to remember when preparing and the TJLC would like to share some helpful tips about preparing for the upcoming University of Arizona’s Career Fair 2016. The fair will be September 20th-21st in the Student Union Memorial Center, 3rd floor Ballroom from 11:00 am -4:00 pm.

1. Do your homework before the event

Make sure to do your homework before the event by researching the employers that will be attending the event. Research individual company’s mission statements and goals to help narrow down the target companies you would like to work for. Once you have a list of companies you want to work for, make sure the company has a job opportunity for you and try to think of reason’s why you would be a good fit for their company. You should also prepare questions to ask the recruiters, this shows you’re genuinely interested in their company.  If you would like to check out the companies that will be attending the upcoming career fair at the University of Arizona, visit: Wildcat Joblink

2. Print and bring multiple copies of your Resume

Make sure you have enough copies of your resume for all the employers in which you are interested.  If you received the student business cards at the Emerging Talent Recruitment Conference, bring those too.  You never know who you’ll run into at a career fair and it’s better to have too many copies than not enough. It is recommended that you have two copies for each company you are seeking a job.  Also, don’t forget to offer your resume as recruiters may get distracted with the large number of students at their booth. Handing your resume to a recruiter after a firm handshake is a great way to get your resume in their hands. It also gives you an opportunity to highlight your big accomplishments/interest presented on your resume.

3. Make a good first impression

In most cases, a career fair is a professional environment therefore you should look professional. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed; it will at least look like you care. Make sure to brush your teeth along with all other hygienic necessities. Make sure you are not chewing gum so you can talk to recruiters without chomping your gum around, it can come across rude. With all other manners aside, make sure you give a confident firm handshake. This is your initial connection with the recruiter and you want it to be confident. Check out our Pinterest board ‘Business Attire’ for help on how to dress professional. TJLC Pinterest

4. Devise a Plan for the Career Fair

Having a plan of attack is the perfect way to show up to a career fair acting confident and prepared.  I would encourage you to attend the event by yourself, without your best bud. I know, ‘ahhh,’ it sounds scary but let’s face it, you and your friend are probably seeking different jobs. Even if you and your best friend are looking for similar jobs, you should be able to stand alone so that recruiters notice you as an individual, rather than a follower. Recruiters recognize those who can stand-alone and who can confidently approach the companies he or she is interested in. Another important tip, when you first arrive at the career fair, don’t approach your number one company first. Take a lap, talk to a company that you aren’t interested in and practice your elevator speech. It’s normal to be nervous, but once you get one under your belt, approaching the company you’re really interested in will be a breeze. In regards to that, prepare an elevator pitch and practice it before. It not easy to talk about yourself, practicing it will make your interactions more natural. You don’t have to have it perfectly memorized but you should be able to list and talk about things you have accomplished, things you’re working on, and your goals for the future. The last part of devising a plan is showing the recruiter that you’ve done your homework by preparing questions to ask the companies you are interested in. Not only should you have questions ready to ask, you should be prepared to answer questions such as, “What are you here for today?” and “What are you currently doing to help further your career?” If you can incorporate the answers to these questions in your elevator pitch, you’ll put yourself at an advantage.

5. Be Engaged

Make sure you are listening to what the recruiter is saying. The recruiters are looking for talent, but they also want you to want to work for them. They will be trying to sell you their company just as much as you are trying to sell yourself. Listen up and be able to engage in a conversation, recruiters will take note of those they see potential in and have a common connection with. If you stay engaged in what is happening at the career fair, it becomes easier to approach companies. It’s important to take advantage of the resources around you. Upon walking around the fair, you should be listening to the conversations happening around you and learn from it. Be a sponge and absorb as much information as possible, you never know what you can use to your advantage.

6. Follow up with Recruiters

This is probably the most important part of attending a career fair. Congratulations you made the first step in getting yourself to the career fair, and you networked with all the recruiters you wanted! But if you never follow-up with the recruiter or the application process all of your hard work goes right out the door. There are many actions you can take to follow up with recruiters. You can connect with them via LinkedIn and email, but if you are still interested in the position they’re hiring for, you should continue with the application process. Most of the time, just giving your resume to a recruiter is not enough to secure an interview, you have to submit more information, normally through their website or through the schools job link website. Putting your words into actions will demonstrate your determination and interest in working for their company.

I encourage you all not to worry because you’re not the only one in this position. Seeking a job or internship can feel like a make-it or break-it point in your life, but you must face it head on.  Being prepared for a career fair will certainly help with all the nervous and awkward feelings you may be having. Following these six steps should give you an idea of what to expect and how to prepare for it. My last piece of advice is that you can’t wait for an opportunity to come your way you must create it. Best of luck to those attending the career fair and Happy Networking!

I am currently a senior majoring in Retailing and Consumer Sciences while minoring in e-commerce. I hold the position of Social Media Manager for the Terry J. Lundgren Center For Retailing at the University of Arizona, where I am responsible for creating social media platforms that not only enhance our brand but also educate the world about retail trends. I am what you call a Retail Enthusiast, I am intrigued by the way the retail industry is evolving and what it has to offer. In my free time, I enjoy the outdoors, yoga, good music, and good company.