Whether you are a current student or alumni, there is important homework to be done in order to ace a career fair. The following strategies are intended to help you show up feeling more prepared and be more memorable to potential employers.
1. Strategize the order of your employers.
The first step is to research the participating employers that will be attending the career fair. Make a comprehensive list of all the ones you would like to meet and learn more about. Most importantly, break down these employers into three groups:
- Group A: High Pressure
- Group B: Moderate Pressure
- Group C: Low Pressure
The first one, Group A, is reserved for opportunities or companies that are highly selective, very popular among students, and possibly the ones with which you are most nervous to speak. You should put potential employers that you feel relatively confident speaking to in Group B. Lastly, Group C should be reserved for the ones you are the least nervous to meet and have the lowest stakes.
When you enter the Career Fair, you should never start with an employer from Group A. It can be tempting to jump straight into your most desired opportunity, but chances are you will feel most nervous during the first one. By starting with Group B, you will get a chance to let your nerves disappear and learn from your mistakes. Once you feel more comfortable, you can start going to meet the ones in your first group. If you are still lacking confidence or having trouble connecting to recruiters, this would be a good time to tap into your last group.
Having a plan before you arrive is the best way to be smart with your time.
2. Research the employers.
According to survey findings, employers have indicated that UGA students should conduct more research on the company before applying or interviewing. The best place to start is a simple Google search of the company and to check out their main website.
However, that alone is not enough to impress a recruiter. Look further using these websites:
- The Wall Street Journal
- Business Week
- The Inc. 5000
- Company social media accounts
While looking at these sites, be on the lookout to understand the company’s specialty, organizational structure, culture, company history, achievements, future projects, size, and relevant news.
3. Keep your notes handy and have questions.
As you are researching, be sure to take notes. Put your notes for each company in your padfolio or folder so you can have access to a quick reminder before approaching the employer. Along with your notes, you should also include tailored questions for each of the employers. Creating specific questions for each company will help you stand out against the crowd.
4. Print many copies of your resume.
Print more than you think you may need! It is possible more than one representative may speak to you at an employer booth, so you will want to be prepared. This is also a good idea in case a copy gets ruined or you meet an employer that was not on your original list.
5. Plan your outfit carefully.
Is it professional? Presentable? Are you comfortable? Depending on your schedule, you could be standing and walking for hours, so be intentional with the shoes you ultimately pick. Not to mention—you could get sweaty!
It’s always a good idea to think ahead about whether or not you need to get a haircut or nails done. Every detail should be considered because it can play into a factor into your first impression.
6. Perfect the pitch.
Practice, practice, practice. The pitch to the employer or recruiter can set you apart from the competition, but it can often feel difficult or awkward to come up with exactly what to say. Here are ideas you should try to incorporate into the pitch:
- An introduction
- Why you stand out as a candidate
- Resume Highlights
- Your goal
- Why you’re interested in this company
- End with a question to engage them in a conversation
Ideally, this should be anywhere between 30 to 45 seconds. Be friendly, warm, and confident. The best approach is to include what feels most comfortable and authentically you.
Now that you’ve done your homework and studying, you have one last thing to do…get a good night of sleep.
Best of luck!