Job Seeker Tips for a Successful Career Fair Attendance
Up to 80 percent of jobs are filled through networking. Career Fairs provide job seekers an opportunity to connect with recruiters and hiring managers to discuss your skills and knowledge as well as demonstrate initiative and show your professional communication skills. This personal interaction is likely to make a much stronger impression than an email or online application can so prepare in advance to make the most of this opportunity.
Career Fair Expectations
Your Expectations as a Job Seeker
To be successful in a career fair you must have clear expectations and you must understand your responsibilities as a job seeker. A career fair will provide you with an opportunity to make contacts with recruiters and hiring managers but will not get you an on-the-spot job offer. It is your responsibility as a job seeker, to highlight your skills and interests to employers and to show genuine interest. The impression you make along with the follow-ups you make after the fair will be crucial to your success.
Some of the employers who attend will take resumes while others will not and will instead direct candidates to their websites to apply (see “Handing out Your Resume” section below). Though we would love for all employers attending to have to current openings, it is important to note that some will be there to build a candidate pool by spreading the word about upcoming openings and encouraging candidates to keep an eye on their websites. Most will expect you to be knowledgeable about their company and all will expect you follow-up if they ask you to.
How to Prepare
Preparation is key to be successful at ANY hiring event. And with so many candidates attending, how will you stand out?
Conducting Research in Advance
Find out what employers are registered to attend and then visit their websites to learn more about what they do and what types of candidates they are seeking. Be sure to keep track of your findings as you will need this information to create your game plan for the day of the event. Apply to positions that interest you prior to meeting the employer. This action will show them you are a serious candidate. Be sure to also bring notes with you the event to help jog your memory when speaking to recruiters.
Creating/Updating Your Resume
Be sure you have a professional resume that clearly highlights your skills, knowledge and achievements. Useful resume-related resources as well as a sample resumes can be found in the Job Seeker section of our website. Career Development Services offers resume critiques for students and alumni via email (email@example.com) or by appointment. To schedule an appointment, contact us at (352) 323-3603 or submit an appointment request on our website. Please allow up to 2 business days for a response.
Your Introduction to Employers (elevator speech)
When approaching employers, be sure to have a focused introduction that not only provides your name and major/career focus but that also quickly summarizes your strengths, achievements and career interests as they relate to the company. This will not only help you in making a positive impression, but it will help the employer quickly determine how to best assist you.
Handing Out Your Resume
Oftentimes job seekers leave career fairs leaving disappointed when instead of taking your resume employers instead direct you to apply on their company websites. If you are prepared and know to expect this then you will be able to have a better approach during the event. Don’t assume that if an employer does not take your resume that they are not interested. If you made a positive impression they will be sure to take note of this and will be on the lookout for your application through their system. Understanding why employers may not take resumes is important. Here are some reasons why:
An application submitted online can be searched in the employer’s database more easily
Many companies are required to maintain and report statistical data on applicants and online applications help them collect the statistics needed to comply with equal opportunity employment laws.
To make the application process more fair to job seekers (and to avoid any potential violations to equal opportunity employment laws) many employers opt to have the entire application process online to ensure that all applicants are evaluated and treated equally
Communicating to the applicant is often done via e-mail and an on line system allows you to do so quickly and send legally compliant, consistent messages throughout the process
Fewer errors are introduced when an application is submitted online, compared with a human resources manager scanning in an application
Those employers with government contracts are legally required to follow the online application process to ensure sound hiring practices
What to Bring
Copies of your resume (customize resumes whenever possible)
Notepad, padfolio or folder to hold copies of your resume and notes
Portfolio (optional) - can hold a general resume, transcripts, performance evaluations, copies of your work (designs, project outlines, writing samples such as technical reports, articles you have written, etc.)
List of your targeted companies (this is where your research is beneficial)-referred to list of registered companies
Pen and paper for making notes/collecting contact information
After the Career Fair
Thank You Notes
Send thank you notes to employers you had a significant interaction with (don't forget to ask for contact information while you speak to them). In addition, if an employer asks you to follow-up with them, do so!
The primary reason for attending a Career Fair is to make meaningful connections with employers with the intention to make it to the next step in the hiring process. If you succeed in moving along this process, you should expect at some point to have to interview for the position(s) you are being considered for. Don't be caught unprepared when you get called for an interview. You should practice your answers to potential interview questions as well as have professional attire ready to go for your interview. To view sample interview questions and tips, visit the Job Seeker section of our website. Career Development Services offers mock interviews to students and alumni and those can be scheduled via our appointment request form or by calling our office at 352-323-3603.
We wish you the best of luck on your job search efforts!