Career Fair Basics 101

Posted On: March 4, 2016

If you take the time to prepare and follow some career fair basics you’ll stand out from the crowd and make a great first impression with potential employers.

If you take the time to prepare and follow some career fair basics you’ll stand out from the crowd and make a great first impression with potential employers.

There’s a career fair coming to your campus and you’re planning to attend, in between classes and grabbing coffee with friends. You’ll just head over there and pick up some company swag right? Impress them with your sparkling personality. No preparations required.

Wrong.

If you take the time to prepare and follow some career fair basics you’ll stand out from the crowd and make a great first impression with potential employers.  Let’s land that first big job!

What to Take To a Career Fair

 

Printed Copies of your Resume

After you have identified the companies at the job fair you want to target and researched companies to understand what they do, it’s time to get moving. Expect to carry approximately 30-40 resumes based on the size of the career fair.  You need at least one resume per company. Print the resumes on white paper so they are clean and easy to read.  If you are looking at more than one career path, be sure to have a slightly different copy of your resume with you, targeted to the career fields you are interested in pursuing. Your objective and profile summary should be targeted to the specific position for which you are applying.  Be direct and get to the point quickly in the summary.

Career Fair Basics

After you have identified the companies at the job fair you want to target and researched companies to understand what they do, it’s time to get moving.

Keywords are very important when highlighting skills, experience and accomplishments on your resume.  The resume should be one page if you are new to the job market, two years if you have some work experience, and three pages if you have more than two years of work experience and education. A few days before the career fair be sure to proof your resumes and cover letters for any grammatical and spelling errors before you print them.

References

We recommend bringing three recommendation letters per company. Recommendations that stand out include those from professors, companies where you had an internship or from former employers. The letters of recommendation should have the name of the reference, their contact information and their qualifications.  Expect a future employer to contact all the persons listed to inquire about your work and behavior ethics.  Be sure your references or letter of recommendations are people that will respond to the employers inquiries. Also be sure to get their permission first before listing them as a reference.

Educational Documents

Academic transcripts can be requested by a potential employer in case of first-time and entry level candidates. This also applies to non-traditional students who have recently graduated.  This gives the potential employers an idea about the subjects you have taken and your background.  Be sure to carry photocopies of your transcripts. You do not need originals at the career fairs.

Appearances Matter

 

Your Bag

Do not show up with loose resumes and other paperwork.  Carry a small briefcase or portfolio with all your resumes and references neatly placed into the case.  Use multiple files within the case to keep the resumes separate and distinctive if you have more than one style of resume.  Carrying a briefcase or portfolio will make you look more professional and allow you to shake hands on introductions. Juggling bags and loose papers will definitely be a turn-off to potential employers.

What to Wear

Career fairs can be your first interview with a company.  Dress as if you are going on a first interview. Your attire should be a step above business casual.  It is better to error on the side of professionalism and be a little overdressed than be underdressed and under confident.  Remember you will only have a very short time to make that great first impression.

Speaking With the Employer

A confident handshake, smile and a positive attitude are the best way to make that great first impression on a potential employer.  Approach each employer with a smile, and then introduce yourself and give a brief overview of your skills and education.

The “Sales Pitch”

When you give your resume to the company representative be prepared to quickly expand on the basic information about who you are and your career interests such as:   “Hello, I’m Matt Beck. I’m a senior here at Florida State University and I’m majoring in Computer Programming. I’m very interested in an IMT career. As I have shown on my resume, I just completed an internship in the IT Department of XYZ Company. I would be very interested in speaking with you about career opportunities within your company.”  Prepare your introduction so that it is no longer than 30 seconds which is about the time of an elevator ride.  This is known as the elevator pitch and is a quick highlight of your background.

Wrapping Up the Career Fair

Be sure to offer a final reminder by revisiting the employers with which you made a connection and leave a lasting impression if you would like to work for them such as:   “I’d love to stay in touch with you. What would be the best way to get in contact with you?” Swinging by a second time reinforces your interest in their company. Understand that no job offers will be made at the Career Fair. Following through with all the career fair basics will help you on your way to a successful interview at the company of your choice.

We’re looking for talented people to join our technology team. Learn more about opportunities available and apply for a position today. We offer a work environment that is fun and challenging. If you’re looking for a software development position in a company that values family, apply today for a position in our IMT Department at careers.rlcarriers.com.

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