Career fairs present ideal opportunities for both students and employers. For students, having dozens of employers essentially come to them is a golden chance to make great connections. For employers, they're given a chance to meet and screen candidates for possible internships and post-graduate jobs.
Here are eight best practices for students to consider as they prepare for career fairs on their campuses.
Bring a resume
Be prepared to hand prospective employers your resume. You won't do this for every employer, but bringing a set of resumes presents an instant opportunity for feedback and possible consideration for employment. Be sure to update the resume with your most recent experiences, key action words, and transferable skills.
Your attire will trigger a first impression in the employer representative and set the tone for conversation. Students who dress well, give off a confident and interested demeanor, likely meeting the delight of the employer. You can't go wrong wearing something similar to what you wear at formal chapter meetings.
Clean your online brand
Take a good look at the photos, status updates, and comments on your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. The employer representatives you meet at the career fair, particularly those who indicate interest in future meetings, will likely research your online profiles. Your online presences speaks volumes of your character, beliefs, interests, and social circles. Employers will seek any red flags.
For most campus career fairs, a list of employers will be posted. Be sure to contact your career center for the roster, in advance of the career fair, to conduct research. Learning about employer prior to the career fair allows you to better understand their purposes, goals, cultures, hiring practices, community involvement, and available positions. Your research should trigger questions to ask when meeting with employer representatives.
Don't window shop
Many students will browse or casually walk by employer tables to find the ones which they feel best fits their initial interests. It's important to keep in mind that employers seek wide varieties of skill sets. For example, an engineering firm likely needs marketing staff to inspire sales and enhance corporate branding. Engaging in conversations will many different employers can easily open the doors to greater insight, understanding, recommendations and, quite easily, references to other employers.
Show employers your listening skills by asking questions. Also, show them your interest by asking questions based on the research you conducted. The answers you receive will certainly paint a better picture in your mind about each employer.
Collect business cards
Be sure to grab business cards from each employer representative with whom you engage in meaningful conversations. Collecting their information will enable you to followup. It also indicates your networking comfort level, as well as your desire to build the relationship. Best Practice 7A - hand them your own business card. Don't assume that they'll collect your information from the resume.
Soon after the career fair, mail a hand-written note to the employer representatives. A simple note has tremendous impact. For one thing, it will be tough for the employer to forget you when it comes time to considering your employment. Your thoughtfulness demonstrates your true character, while indicating your sincere interest in the employer.
Follow these eight best practices and you'll be leaps ahead of fellow students on the career launch path.