Odds are you've seen fliers advertising career fairs while walking to class or making your way across campus. And with the end of the academic semester not too far away, now's the best time to consider attending one. Because a career fair is an – no, the – opportunity to establish professional relationships with people who can help get your foot in the door (or score a job) at the company you want to work for.
But how does one make the most of a career fair? Scroll down and peruse through the top five things that will help you (and your fellow college students) stand out from the rest of the pack.
1. BE CONFIDENT
This one speaks for itself. Approach each table with a smile, a hand poised to give a firm shake and an engaging "elevator speech," a brief (aim for no more than 30 seconds) introduction that tells the recruiters who you are as well as what you hope to achieve when entering the working world. Make sure to maintain eye contact at all times and speak in a voice that shows interest in the opportunities the company has to offer.
2. DRESS FOR SUCCESS
You've probably heard this saying before, but clothes really do make the man…as well as the woman. What you wear to a career fair will play a major role in creating that positive first impression. For women––a tailored pants suit, a blouse and slacks combination or a blouse and knee-length skirt combination with comfortable shoes (low heels if former, flats if latter two) and minimum jewelry. For men––business suit, long-sleeved dress shirt and good quality tie, clean dress shoes and matching dark socks, well-groomed facial hair and styled haircut.
3. DO YOUR RESEARCH
Most colleges (emphasis on most) provide a list containing the names of the companies that will be participating and the people who will be representing them. So before you go, take the time to check out each company websites, brush up on their mission statements and identify open positions that align with your long-term goals. Doing homework beforehand and demonstrating knowledge is bound to help make a strong first impression. You can also find out which companies are participating by going to your school's Career Services Center.
4. CLEAN UP YOUR RESUME
This one also speaks for itself. Make sure your resume is up to date (recent jobs, newly developed skills, etc.), uncluttered (that means neat formatting, no wordy sentences) and polished (you never know the difference spelling errors can make). On the night of the fair, bring a folder containing six to nine copies. If you feel more copies are is necessary, bring more.
5. FOLLOW UP AFTERWARDS
This is perhaps the most important pointer. Write a brief (aim for under 100 words) thank you note to all the representatives and recruiters you met during the fair within 24-48 hours. But whatever you do, don't rush. Take the time to compose a thoughtful message rather than send a hastily written one. Another thing to avoid is sending the same message over and over again. Personalize each note to the recruiter you're reconnecting with. Reaching out to them if you don't hear back within two weeks is another way to show you continue to express interest and enthusiasm without being annoying.
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