Top 10 career fair tips, presented by the University of Kentucky's James W. Stuckert Career Center.
- Take the time to research which employers will be attending the career fair by going to our website. www.uky.edu/careercenter . The attending employers are listed on Wildcat CareerLink. If you do not have a Wildcat CareerLink account it is easy to get one by scrolling to the bottom of our first website page and clicking Student/Alumni button.
- Please consider that you may not have time to visit every table, therefore the best strategy is to choose the companies of most interest to your and research those companies thoroughly ahead of time. Many employers provide a web address, which is also a good place to search for information.
- Keep in mind that you cannot tell what a company or organization has to offer simply by looking at their name or product. Most companies/organizations have needs to be met in accounting, human resources, management, engineering, etc. It is up to you to be assertive in striving to match your skills and interests to companies and their needs. The most successful candidate will find a match regardless of what positions a company currently has advertised. Clarify your goals before the career fair so that you leave with meaningful contacts and information.
Have at least 25 copies of your best resume, on high quality white or ivory resume paper, prepared to hand to the representatives.
- Make sure that your resume is free of errors and has been critiqued by a career advisor in the James W. Stuckert Career Center.
- Use an objective on your resume to help you communicate your goals and interests to employers. Include your computer skills, internships, and relevant coursework and work experiences.
- Have a separate list of references with your name and address clearly printed at the top.
- Some employers may request a cover letter even though you’ve delivered your resume in person.
- Carry your resume in a leather portfolio or folder with a nice pen and a pad of paper.
3. Dress professionally to make a positive first impression!
- A business suit in a dark color with a modest blouse.
- Or a modest skirt, blouse and a jacket or blazer.
- Low heeled, polished dress shoes. Hosiery.
- Hair should be neat and away from your face.
- Make-up and jewelry should be at a minimum.
- A business suit in a darker color.
- A dress shirt and tie.
- Dress socks and shoes with a matching belt.
- Or a dress shirt and tie with nice slacks and a sport coat.
What not to wear to a career fair.
- NO BLUE JEANS or t-shirts.
- Remove piercings and cover tattoos - Both genders
- Heavy make-up: You want to look natural.
- Excessive jewelry: women should wear small earrings and rings on your hands.
- Heels that are over 3 inches high: It will affect the way you walk and your feet will thank you at the end of the day!
- Perfume, Cologne or Aftershave: Many people are allergic to fragrances and you don’t want your scent to be the only thing an employer remembers about you. HOWEVER: Do wear deodorant; it can get very warm at a Career Fair!
- Do not wear hats unless for religious/cultural reasons.
You have only 3 seconds to make a first impression! So you want to present yourself as confident, pleasant, and relaxed.
- A smile will help you relax and let the employer know you are friendly. (Employers get nervous too!)
- Eye contact lets the employer know that are listening and engaged in the conversation.
- A firm handshake speaks volumes about your personality.
- Never give a limp or half-hearted handshake, it is considered rude.
- Be sure to practice this.
- On the contrary, avoid giving a bone-crushing handshake.
- Practice introducing yourself OUTLOUD so you are used to hearing it when you speak to an employer: Your name, grade level and major are a good start. Clearly pronounce your words.
5. Market Yourself Well
Be prepared to respond to the question: “Tell me a little bit about you”.
Develop a 30 Second Commercial which is a quick synopsis of:
- Your major and education level
- Why you chose your major
- What you like best about your chosen field
- What you do best in regard to your major
- Strengths and passions
You especially want to practice your 30 Second Commercial out loud. You want to present yourself in your best light. If you are uncomfortable talking about yourself you might want to ask friends or family help you by making suggestions of what to say. Other people often see the strengths and value in us that we don’t see in ourselves. Then…Practice, Practice, Practice!
6. Be Prepared with Questions
What to ask?
Do your research on the companies as suggested in Tip #1 and be prepared to ask the company about themselves. Examples of questions might be:
- Hiring Needs and Projections
- Current and future projects
- Company Goals
- Company Success
What not to ask!
- What does your company do? (This can offend the employer and shows that you are not specifically interested in them).
- How much do you pay?
- What are your benefits?
7. Be a Good Listener.
- Again, Eye contact shows that you are listening.
- Take notes. This also shows you are listening and will help you with details later. There is no way that you will remember everything said to you by every employer.
- Body language: Keep your weight evenly distributed on both feet and your back straight. It will keep you alert and you will have a more professional presence.
8. Business Cards
- It is important to acquire the contact information of the employers you meet at any career fair.
- If they don’t have their cards with them, write their information down on your pad of paper.
- Be sure to send an email and/or handwritten Thank-you note to those employers you met and with whom you hope to get an interview. Email is a quick and immediate way to follow-up. Yet, sometimes emails don’t get read, get deleted, or end up in the junk folder. A hard-copy, handwritten note tells the employer that you took the time to follow good business protocol and that you really want to work for them.
- Often the hiring decision will come down to which candidate made the best professional impression.
- Also, a Thank-You card puts your name in front of the employer one more time; this is a part of the self-marketing process discussed in Tip #5.
- Connect with the employer via professional social media options such as LinkedIn.com
10. Relax and Have Fun!
A career fair is a wonderful opportunity to:
- Practice your introduction and interviewing skills
- Network ad connect with employers
- Learn what companies are hiring UK graduates
- Meet lots of people who want you to succeed
So be prepared, have fun and jump right in!
- Stop by the Stuckert Career Center during the weekly drop-in hours to discuss your preparation process.