Career Fair Tips // Everything you need to know beforehand

September 29, 2015

Your first career fair can definitely be overwhelming no matter how big or small. At my school, there will be over 200 different employers that I could have the opportunity to talk with. Some colleges require real-world experiences whether it be a co-op or an internship, but even if it isn't required to graduate, a summer internship in your field can be a great head start for the future job search down the road. Now, let's get into the fun stuff!

Before the career fair:

There is as much to do before the career fair as there is to do during and after. Here's some tips to get you started in the right direction and help get you prepped for the big day!

Dress to Impress:

Dressing professionally can help you stand out from the crowd. At my school's career fair everyone will be wearing professional attire. This may seem intimidating, but here's some tips to get you looking your best, so you can past the test (see what I did there?).

The most common outfit on career fair day is a black suit. I purchased a gray suit, not only because it's my favorite color (if you can even call it that), but also because it'll give me a little variation from the crowd. Just be sure that you don't have any noticeable wrinkles, stains, or imperfections for whatever you do end up wearing.

Keep in mind that this will be the first impression that the employers will get from you, make it a great one.

Talk the Talk:

Your resume can sadly not do all of the talking for you, so here are some tips on how to carry conversation with your dream employer. One of the most important aspects of the career fair is to interact with employers properly. You need to be able to communicate what you can bring to their company. In order to wow them, be sure to do research on them. It is great if you are able to talk to them about their company culture or the latest headlong about their company. It will impress them and show how interested you are in their company.

You also should to be aware of their current positions and job openings. Looking up position details before meeting them at the fair can lead to a great conversation starter. Does your first choice company not have applicable positions available? When you go to the career fair, tell them that you noticed no job positions were posted and ask if they have anything opening up soon. 

Now, although it is important to know a good bit of information about the company, you also have to have your stuff down pat. You need to know things such as your greatest strengths, greatest weakness, your best qualities and more. If you practice your elevator speech beforehand you'll be much more comfortable telling about yourself to strangers.

During the Career Fair:

Now that you're all prepped to strut your nice suit into the career fair, here's what you should do at the career fair to succeed.

Working the Floor:

It'll be crazy. It will be hot. It will be overwhelming. But you've got this. Just follow these tips!

Have a plan. Obviously, you will have a plan; graduate college then get a job. If it were only that simple, but what I mean by having a plan is knowing where you want to go first, last, and everything in between. You should really prioritize your companies in case you don't have enough time to visit all of them. Depending on how large your "wish list" of companies and the size of your fair, you may have to eliminate some. 

A few more tips when making your plan of attack. If you can, find a map of the layout of the event. Knowing exactly where the companies will be will help you save time, plan intelligently, and you won't get lost (hopefully). Another tip, don't start with your first choice company. Begin with a company lower in your ranking so you can shake out all of your nerves, plus it gives you a practice run! Also, don't forget about time. You have to remember to factor in waiting lines when you make your plan. 

I hope this rather lengthy post leaves you feeling more relieved rather than petrified for the career fair. I wish you all luck on your job search as mine begins tomorrow (eek!). Tell me in the comments what is your #1 career fair tip?

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