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Making a Job-Career Fair Work for You

job fair

Job/Career Fairs are excellent ways to connect with various employers.  This type of format allows you the chance to see as many employers as there are available at that particular fair.  At the fair, employers typically provide general information about career options within their company and information about job or internship openings that are currently available. You can attend the job/career fairs for various reasons that include looking for a job, gathering information about a career or company, learning about internship opportunities, and networking with recruiters at the fair. Make sure you get their business cards and follow-up with them after the fair.

What makes a career fair a successful and valuable experience for you?  The keys to making a job/career fair work for you and your job search process are:

  1. Being Prepared
  2. Being able to Network
  3. Following-up

Preparation

  • Without being prepared the fair will probably be a bust for you.  If you are not prepared it will be overwhelming and not a positive event. The first step in preparing for a career fair is to have a strong, well–written resume. Your resume needs to be focused on the job you want and it should highlight your skills and accomplishments. Make sure you bring more than one type of resume-if you are going to a fair and a social services agency and an entry level business organization ask you for your resume you better have two different resumes available because the skill sets are different for each position. Your resume has to be error free-no mistakes! We can help you write your resume.  You can see our resume guides and samples online by clicking here or you can contact one of our advisors at 410-543-6075 or careerservices@salisbury.edu or you can make an appointment by going to GullNet.  We also have "Thursday Walk-in Day" for resume and cover letter reviews.  You do not need an appointment on Thursday for those reviews.
  • Also make sure you bring your business cards to the job/career fair. If you don't have any, make your own or order your own!  List your name, degree, major, date of graduation and contact information.
  • To find out which employers will attend the career fair, go to SU Career Connections. After logging in click on "Career Events", "Category>Career/Job Fair", "Search" and then on "View Employers Attending". You will then view the names of the companies and organizations attending the career fair.
  • Research, research, research the companies you are interested in that are attending the job/career fair. The employers will be very impressed that you know so much about them. The more informed you are, the more likely it is that you will be remembered after the job/career fair is over. Learn as much as you can about the companies products, their mission, what their goals are, their divisions and subsidiaries, size, reputation, new products, number of employees, etc. Finally look at the trends of their industry.
  • Don't limit your employer list to only companies you know about.  If you don't know about a company invest some time in doing research about them.  Every year we see students who accept jobs or internships with employers they did not know about prior to the fair. Don't miss out on some great opportunities.
  • Target the employers you most want to contact at the job/career fair. Make sure you have adequate time to  speak with them and start with your favorite employer-that way you know you will have time to speak with them and also have time to say good-by to them at the end of the fair.  It is a good idea to speak with a couple of your 2nd level employers first just to make sure you are comfortable talking to them.
  • Prepare a thirty second professional introduction of yourself (The "30 Second Commercial"). Include information such as your name, major, relevant experience and/or skills you have, what you know about the company and and position openings. This is your own personal commercial! Practice this intro until you remember it and are comfortable using it.
  • Be sure you tell them what you can offer them, not on what they can do for you. Employers will be impressed and will be interested in what you have to say.  More importantly, they will be more apt to remember you favorably.
  • Be ready with a few questions ready to ask employers. You don't know how much time you will have with each employer; it may vary from a few seconds to several minutes. The employer could ask you if you have any questions, and you need have a few relevant questions prepared.  Write them down in your notebook. Also be aware and respectful of the time employers have available for you. Questions on internship possibilities, what skills they look for in a candidate and the company culture are examples of appropriate questions.
  • Be smart and don't ask the employers personal questions.
  • Bring several copies of your resume on resume paper – always bring more than you think you will need.
  • Leave your resume and business card with each representative. Be sure to get their business card also.
  • Dress professionally. First impressions are hard to change!

Networking at the Job/Career Fair

  • Make sure you wear comfortable shoes.  They must look professional.  You will be on your feet for a long period of time and you need to be as comfortable as possible. 
  • Be at the fair early.  This will give you te chance to look over the table setup and review your employer contact list. 
  • Speak with your 2nd group of employers first to help you gain confidence. This should give you a chance to polish your commercial when approaching the employers. You should now be ready to connect with your 1st level of employers. Go to the 3rd group if you have time.
  • When meeting employers introduce yourself and shake hands, make eye-contact and remember to smile!
  • Now is the time for your 30 second professional introduction of yourself. Bring to the forefront what you have to offer them as far as skills, abilities, qualities, etc.
  • Make sure to listen attentively to the employer and answer any questions directly.
  • Network with a wide range of people who are attending the career fair. You may hear about other career opportunities.
  • Give every employer a resume and business card. Also be sure to get business cards from the employers you contact.
  • Discuss with the employer what the next step in the application process will be.
  • When you walk into MAGGS Gym or the Wicomico Room for the fair, it is easy to become overwhelmed and disoriented. Make sure to pace yourself and take your time. There is no big rush. Take breaks when needed.

Follow-Up

  • During the fair or soon after the fair, take notes on each of the employers you talk with. If you don't you will not be able to remember who said what to you.  Try writing down some notes on the back of employers' business cards.
  • Send a thank you note/email/card immediately after the fair. Write or e-mail each employer you meet and thank him/her for their time and information given to you. Make sure you express to them your interest in the company and your skills and experience you have to offer. This step is critical—make sure you take care of it!
  • Follow up on any employment opportunities you heard about while at the fair. This may include emailing your resume to a specific person, requesting a job description or calling a contact the employer suggested.

Job fairs are fantastic venues to network and get your name out there.  What other time will you have 80 to 130 employers in front of you at the same event?  Take advantage of it.

See you at the next SU Job/Career Fair!

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