What to Expect from a Careers Fair
BY JANE HURST
Some of your best opportunities in college will come from careers fairs, and there are many different kinds that you can attend. Some may be general career fairs, some may be hosted by local employers, and others might be industry-specific. But, even though there are many different types of careers fairs, they all have two things in common: to give students a chance to connect with potential employers; and to give employers an opportunity to screen potential future employees. Today we are going to talk about what to expect from a careers fair, and how to be prepared.
Some careers fairs are open to anyone who wishes to attend. For others, you must pre-register prior to the event. This usually involves submitting a resume, and you can do the pre-registration online in most cases. It is actually a pre-screening tool for employers, and they will take notes about the applicants that they would like to meet. Pre-registration can get you noticed, and that is the first step in landing your dream job after college. Once you have registered, you can start learning about the fairs and the companies that will be in attendance.
Do Your Research
Before you attend any careers fair, it is important that you do your research. First, read the guides for each careers fair that you are attending, so you will know which companies are going to be there. Then, you can make a list of the companies that you are interested in learning more about, and do some research about those companies. Compile a list of questions that will show potential employers that you have done your homework.
Remember, there are right and wrong questions to ask at careers fairs. For starters, after your initial introductions, you can skip the small talk. Jump right into the meat of the conversation, and start discussing the company, why you are interested in working for them, etc. Ask your researched questions, and if there are things that you were unable to find out from the brochures, you may be able to get that information now. Do not ask how much you might be paid, what the company can do for you, etc.
Make sure that you have plenty of copies of your resume to give to potential employers. If you are applying to a variety of companies, it is a good idea to tailor your resume to fit each different category, and have two resumes for each company that you are interested in. You will likely end up having several different resumes to hand out, and you need to know which skills to put on a resume for a variety of jobs. They will all be pretty much the same structurally, but they will have some different sections that pertain to the specific industries you are interested in.
Something else to consider is how potential employers are going to save read your resumes. Make sure that your resumes are scannable, so employers can easily scan them and save them into their databases. Even if they are not hiring now, they will have your resume for future reference.
Dress for Success
You may not actually be applying for jobs when you are at a job fair, but you don’t want to go in there looking like a slob either. You need to dress for success, and wear the proper attire for the various companies you are interested in learning more about. Remember, a careers fair is a potential employer’s first impression of you, so you need to make sure that their impression is a good one. Yes, you want to be comfortable, but you don’t want to appear so comfortable as to seem sloppy. This is your only opportunity to make a first impression.
Jane Hurst has been working in education for over 5 years as a teacher. She loves sharing her knowledge with students, is fascinated about edtech and loves reading, a lot. Follow Jane on Twitter.