How to Take Advantage of Job/Career Fairs
Tons of career fairs are happening in March all over BC. You step into a room and there are companies left and right. You want to talk to all of them, but will you have time? Who do you go to first? What are you even supposed to ask these employers? How long do you talk to them for? Most importantly, how do you make a great first impression and stand out?
These might be a few questions that run through your mind when you’re preparing yourself to attend a career fair. We have a few tips to help you prepare for a career fair and on how to take full advantage of opportunities once you are there. Who knows, maybe our tips will help you meet your future boss.
Before you go
Before you go to a career fair, take some time to prepare for it. Think about what documents you need to bring and who you want to talk to by finding out which employers will be present at the career fair. Also, find out which career fair is the most suitable for your skills and interests, and which employers are attending that you are interested in meeting. A great place to determine what types of careers may interest you is on our Career Explorer page. Research the employers’ companies and what they do. Take note of what it is about the company that interests you; this will help you prompt some questions. Prepare a list of questions accordingly with each company you’re interested in, or come up with a list of general questions – this can help guide you to asking more specific questions to each employer!
What to bring
Bring a resume and list of references for each employer you intend to approach, plus a few extra ones in case you find some new employers that you might be interested in. Bring the list of questions you have prepared to ask employers to help guide your conversations. It might also be helpful to bring a notepad to jot down notes. Prepare all these in a folder to keep all your documents nicely intact.
Dress to impress
Ensure you look as if you are going into a job interview, because that’s essentially what it is. The moment you step into the career fair, you are making an impression on the employers standing at their booths. This means dressing in professional, business attire with a clean and polished appearance. By looking professional and well-groomed, you are showing your possible future employers that you are a dedicated individual who took your time and put effort into preparing for the career fair. Regardless of what type of job you are looking for, remember that you have to get the job first before you can dress like someone who already has the job!
Keep in mind that the moment you meet an employer is the moment your interview starts. How do you make a great first impression? Along with your professional attire, remembering these few things will help:
- Don’t be afraid to approach employers. Be confident because you are the reason why they are at the career fair
- Introduce yourself and FIRMLY shake the employer’s hand
- Look employers in the eye when you address them
- Be present and engaging when you talk
- Smile and be positive
- Don’t check your emails or text messages. Leave your phone on silent and out of sight until the event is over
Conversations (What to talk about?)
Introduce yourself to the employer with confidence. Tell them a little bit about yourself, such as your educational background. Employers are there because they want to know about you, so be prepared to answer various interview-type questions about yourself, your skill sets and past job experiences. Ask some interesting and informed questions about the employer, their company, and employment opportunities. Show them your interest in the company and find out what they are looking for. Even if they don’t have any current openings for the position you want, don’t just leave; try to acquire their contact information for the future and expand your network. Present yourself as someone they would want to hire. Towards the end of your chat, remember to thank the employer for their time, shake their hand, and ask for a business card or contact information.
After the career fair
Follow-up with the employer after the event by emailing to thank them again and show them that you are still interested in working at their company. Ask for a meeting, informational interview, or go for a coffee. Either way, it can benefit you to stay connected with any employer for possible future opportunities.
Explore your options
Now that you have everything you need to make the most out of attending a career fair, what else can you do to increase your opportunities? Keep your mind open to employers that are in sectors that you may not be as interested in. It would be helpful to talk to them, as they might have transferable skills and advice that can be insightful for you. Don’t focus on the quantity of how many employers you have talked to, but focus more on making quality connections with employers. Each employer talks to hundreds of students at career fairs, so this is why it is so important to stand out and be the one that she or he remembers!
Want to find out which career fair is coming up near you? Find out on our Events page.