Career fairs can be nerve wracking, especially if it’s your first time. I remember my first career fair:, I was just a first year college student. I only went because my professor said it was mandatory – it was basically a “field trip.” Arriving there, I was so unprepared. My professor didn’t prep us for it or tell us what to expect. She said to just “scout the venue” and to see what it’s like since it was the first career fair most of us had been to. However, I wish she had taught us ahead of time what to anticipate.
You should never go to a career fair unprepared even if it’s just a “field trip” and you’re just “scouting the venue.” You’ll never know who you’re going to meet, and first impressions matter a lot. I’ve had my fair share of career fairs, but I also have experience with working the career fair, so I know what employers are looking for as well.
Bring your most updated resume. Before the career fair, you should spend some time updating your resume and researching which employers will be present. If you want to tailor each resume to a specific employer, that’s even better! This will show how prepared you are, but if you want to bring a more general resume, that’s fine, too. Just make sure you bring numerous copies -. I’d say around 15. You most likely will not distribute all 15 resumes since you’d need to meet with the ones you can definitely see yourself working with, but 15 is a good amount if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for.
Portfolio. This is basically for art and writing students. Employers will want to see your work – that’s what a career fairs areis for. Typically, they can tell who would be a good fit in working with them through first impressions,so if you bring your portfolio, they’ll be able to properly gauge your works and experience. Coming prepared with a portfolio will also demonstrate that you are serious about working with them. Portfolios can include examples of artwork you’ve created or excerpts of your writing as well.
Appropriate attire. There’s no need to dress in a full suit, but that doesn’t mean you should show up in workout gear either. Dress pants, a button- up, flats, etc - this will do the trick. If you mean business, you have to dress the part. Employers won’t take you seriously if you don’t look professional. I’ve had so many employers vent and complain to me about how the students were dressed they were completely disappointed. So yes, appearance matters!
Notepad/pen/small folder. You will be meeting with tons of potential employers. This is a great opportunity to acquire their names and contact information. Having a notepad and pen ready will show that you are always prepared. Sometimes, you’ll want to take notes on certain employers you’ve met or ones you’d like to work for. It’s always good to have a pen and notepad ready.
Game plan/strategy/sales pitch. Don’t ever go to a career fair unprepared. If you know which employers are attending, come up with a game plan. Ask yourself: – which employers do you definitely want to meet first? Then, come up with a sales pitch. At these fairs, you’re selling yourself and your skills to these potential employers. They’re busy meeting tons of people. They don’t have the time to have a 10-minute conversation with you – rather than dragging out the conversation, come up with a short but impactful sales pitch. A good one will get them interested in knowing more about you. Having a good sales pitch will create a great first impression.
Smile. Lastly, don’t forget to smile. Just because you mean business, doesn’t mean you can’t smile or have a sense of humor. Employers love whenthat you’re serious about the job, but they also don’t want to hire a robot. Smile, crack a few jokes, and have fun.
These are all tips that I wish I knew before attending my first career fair. Now that I have a job that allows me to work closely with employers, I know exactly what they are looking for. Hopefully, these tips help you out with nailing your first or next career fair. If there’s anything that I might’ve missed, let us know!
My name is Linda Tran. I'm 24 years old from Boston and I'm majoring in Marketing with a concentration in Social Media at the Southern New Hampshire University. A fun fact about me is that I learned coding and HTML at the age of 11.