Guide to Making Impressions at the Career Fair

Senior year.

Its a bittersweet time full of fun events and last memories.

It is only week three and I already find my self being pulled in a million directions. There is pressure to attend every event, catch up with friends, ace your coursework, and—most of all—find a job.

Finding a job is easily the most intimidating process. Internally, you know exactly what you want. Externally, not only can you not voice what you want, but it doesn’t seem to exist in any of the job postings.

It is easy to feel discouraged and as though there is not perfect job for you.

It is easy to feel as though whatever job you do take may or may not be a huge mistake.

Well, thats why I am here to help. I have battled my inner stressed out demons and developed the perfect plan to attack the job search in full on mode.

Over the next month, I will be doing a series of posts on every step of the job hunt process. Today, I will be disclosing my tips to make impressions at the Career Fair.

Last year, I did a post on how to write the perfect resume: read it here for my best tips and tricks!

Before You Go to the Career Fair

Here is a simple check list of everything you need to do before the Career Fair.

  1. Update your resume and print 20+ copies on resume paper
  2. Look through the companies coming
  3. Look at what positions the companies are hiring for
  4. Get a map and highlight your path though the fair
  5. Pick out the perfect outfit
  6. RELAX

The last step—to relax—is extremely important. Companies want to see you calm and confident, not a nervous wreck.

Quick Tips for the Career Fair

  • Always introduce yourself with a pitch [see below]
  • Always ask for a business card and follow up with a “great meeting you” email
  • Always smile
  • Always ask the recruiter about their experience—people love to talk about themselves and it gives you a good feel for the company
  • Always chat quietly with people in line with you if you can—recruiters love to see that you are friendly
  • Never rush—you want them to think they are the booth you care to talk to the most
  • Never fidget—they are standing there all day and fidgeting can be very distracting
  • Never stand with friends and talk about companies—wait until you leave because the walls have ears

Prepare your Pitch

When you walk up to a booth, you want to have a concise and telling pitch for yourself. Mine goes a little something like this:

“Hello, I hope you are having a lovely afternoon. My name is Alana Askari and I am currently a senior studying Hotel Administration. Over the past three summers, I have had the opportunity to pursue internships in Retail, Corporate Hospitality, and Event Planning. From these experiences, I have found that I thrive in roles that require teamwork, analytics, and continuous learning. For these reasons I am interesting in your company.”

I try to slightly alter my skill set or offer more explanation to my internships if it is relevant and the recruiter looks interested, but often times it is better to keep it brief. After this pitch, the recruiter will say some things and then you will use your preparation skills and say:

“I would love to hear more about the _______ position at ______ company.”

Then, keep it a conversation. As things he/she says interest you, ask about it. Show that you are paying close attention.

Before you leave the booth, make sure to ask:

“What is your favorite part about the culture of the company?”

This is the perfect question. Not only does it allow the interviewer to talk about themselves, but it gives you a true gauge of they feel about the company and if they have a staged or genuine answer.

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  • Christine Cox

    I have been on both sides and think your advice is great. Can I also add to dress the part? When I was looking for employees at a career fair, your personal appearance plays a huge part in how people remember you. I don’t know if it is just because I am female, but I always remember what people were wearing and then another trait about them. So dress your best (no jeans, tshirts, gym clothes, etc.)

  • linda spiker

    Great suggestions. First impressions are important!

  • As a workforce development professional, I love this post! You gave such great advice that is spot on. I always recommend this to all my participants! :)