How to…Impress at a Career Fair

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Whether you are a freshman searching for your first college internship or a senior looking for the start of your professional career, job or career fairs are an amazing resource for college students. But they can also be incredibly intimidating. Don’t let being scared or unprepared keep you from finding career opportunities. Instead take our advice and get ready to wow some recruiters.

1. Gain Confidence

As a college student, you probably have all the qualities that any recruiter would want to see. But if you’re nervous and timid, a recruiter will typically pick someone more confident and pulled together over you. Do mock interviews with friends, professors, or even over the phone with your parents. Also remember that recruiters talk to new people for a living, so they are friendly and only want to get to know you.

2. Proofread your resume. Yes, again!

You do not want to hand a resume to a recruiter with any mistakes at all. Even if you think your resume is perfect, check again or give it to a friend to look over. A good trick for looking for mispellings is to read the paper backwards. Start at the bottom right hand corner and read from right to left. You won’t be reading for comprehension, so spelling mistakes will be much easier to pick out.

2. Do Your research

Find a list of the companies that will be at the career fair. Narrow it down to the companies that actually interest you. If the company has a website be sure to visit it and look at the careers section. You may be able to make a login name and post a resume already. I’ve had recruiters say that they love hearing that applicants have actually been to the website, so be sure to do so!

3. Be Prepared

Have a game plan of what you want to say to recruiters. You will want to introduce yourself, smile, and give them a firm handshake. Be prepared with questions about what job opportunities they have (if you couldn’t find any information on this in your research) and other intelligent questions in case there is a lull in conversation. What is your company’s job culture like? Have you hired any students from this school before? What job experience does your company like to see on a resume? Make a list for yourself and review it. If case you get tongue tied, use one of the questions to get yourself back on track.

4. Plan Out Your Day

And I mean plan everything! Plan when you’ll wake up. If you’ll shower in the evening or the morning. If you’ll need coffee. Plan out your outfit. Plan out which recruiters you will talk to first. What bag will you bring? Have you printed enough copies of your resume? What time does the event start? Be sure to do this at least 2 days before the event and consider making yourself a schedule or checklist to stay organized.

5. Breathe and Be Positive

Remember, any company would be lucky to have you. You just need to show them who you are.

My Story

I have had a history of bad job interviews, starting with 2 my sophomore year. More recently I was really shooken up from an exit interview I had at one of my jobs. They were giving me advice about what I could do better, but all it sounded like to me was that they thought I was shy and that was a horrible trait to have with their company. I felt like I lost all my confidence and was not excited by the idea of a career anymore. The only way for me to overcome this feeling was to forget what they’d said that made me feel bad about myself and throw myself into another job interview. Long story short; I had an amazing interview, and my self confidence is completely back. So no matter what is bothering you about your life or future, you can pull through and be successful. I believe in you and so do the people in your life (just remind them to tell you once in a while).

What Do You Think?

Do you have any success stories from a career fair? How do you impress recruiters?

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Julie McLaughlin Written by
Category: Careers, Success
5 Comments
  1. alli alli says:

    Thanks Julie, this is extremely helpful and informative. Great to hear you recovered from your bad interview.

    Do you think printing your resume on coloured paper is a bad idea? Will they not take you seriously?

  2. [...] How to impress at a career fair [...]

  3. Julie McLaughlin Julie says:

    Thanks alli!

    And about the colored paper, I would consider the company before trying that. If you are applying for an artsy graphic design job or a cutting edge new company, go for it! It may set you apart. If it’s a chain or an older more traditional company, I’d stick with the traditional route.

    Maybe take a colored resume and a plain resume with you and based on your interaction with the recruiter then decide which type to hand out.

  4. Lauren Lauren says:

    These are all useful tips. When it comes to proofreading resumes, there’s never too many times to do so. I interned at a recruiting company and when they asked me to read through hundreds of resumes, I automatically tossed the ones with grammatical or spelling errors; it just looks careless. As for confidence, I’ve always been told to “Fake it until you make it.” They can’t tell that you’re nervous unless you give it away that you are so fake confidence and eventually it will come naturally. Lastly, you want to dress the part. You should dress for what you want, not what you already have. Look presentable; nobody wants to hire someone wearing clothes with holes in them when wrinkles and dirt stains.

  5. Kelsey Kelsey says:

    Career fairs are a great place to make a point of contact for future outreach! Remember, first impressions are often made at first glance. Be sure to dress professional at your career fair, don’t just go in jeans after class.

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