Tuesday, September 27, 2016

During the Career Fair

Professionalism and Communication

Career fairs can be intimidating and overwhelming. The tips below will give you an idea of what to expect at the event, and how to get through it successfully.


What to Expect

  • A large room, with rows and rows of booths or tables of companies.
  • It will be crowded, with long lines at some tables, and loud. Be prepared to wait.
  • If you haven't pre-registered, student registration tables are usually located at the entrance to the fair. Here you will be asked to swipe your RIT ID, create a name tag.
  • At the RIT Fall & Spring University-Wide Fairs, many companies stay to conduct interviews the next day in the Field House.

What to Bring

  • Download the Career Fair Plus app on your phone and/or any notes you have on the companies. 
  • Copies of your resume, transcript and samples of your work, if appropriate. (Note: because of regulations, employers may need to track their applicants and for some companies the best first step is to apply through their web site.)
  • A pad of paper and pen, to take notes.
  • A padfolio or folder to carry your resumes and notes, and to store business cards and company literature.

Plan Your Strategy

  • Apply for positions or submit your resume ahead of time through the company's web site -- earn points by letting the recruiter know you have taken this initiative.
  • Plan to arrive early and stay late – this will enable you to meet with every company in which you’re interested.
  • After you check in, survey the layout of the fair, and prioritize the employers with whom you’d like to speak, identify the information you want to get from them, and specify goals you hope to achieve.
  • You may want to start by approaching organizations that have a lower priority, to get your feet wet and gain confidence before approaching your top choices.

Make a Good First Impression

  • Dress for success – interview attire is preferred. You should choose a conservative approach to your dress. Wear comfortable shoes, as you will be walking and standing for long periods of time. How you look will play a big part in determining employer interest. (Check out our Pinterest Dress for Success boards for good ideas).
  • Approach the employer, shake hands, smile, and introduce yourself. Remember to maintain eye contact. Be enthusiastic!
  • Be polite – don’t interrupt the employer reps or your fellow job-seekers, don’t monopolize the recruiter’s time.

Market Yourself

  • Be memorable – conversations may seem casual, but you are actually being evaluated. Be direct and visible so recruiters will remember you and what you said.
  • Start with your “60 second commercial” to introduce yourself. The goal is to connect your background to the organization’s needs.
  • You may only have a few minutes to market yourself and gain an interview, so make the most of your time. Be prepared to explain why you came to the company’s table, and what skills and qualifications you have to offer the company.
  • Be articulate, and show confidence in your voice. The room will be noisy, and you’ll need to speak clearly and avoid using filler words, such as “um,” “like,” “you know.”
  • As you leave each employer, learn what the next step in their process is and what, if anything, you should do to advance your candidacy.

More Career Fair Tips

  • Make sure you get the representative’s business card or contact information. Take time to make notes of your discussion after you finish speaking with each company, before you move on. Without notes, you may become confused if you’ve visited several companies in quick succession.
  • Explore all your options – speak with companies you may not have considered before.
  • Make the most of your wait in line – look the company up and read about the company while waiting.
  • Don’t just randomly hand out resumes – if you’re not interested in a company, don’t approach them. It would only be a waste of time for both of you.
  • Don’t be disappointed when you finally get your chance to talk with the recruiter and they encourage you apply through their site, rather than take your resume. Because of regulations, employers may need to track their applicants and for some companies the best first step is through their site.
  • If the company representative works in a different field than the one you’re interested in, do still talk with the company, being sure to leave with the contact information for the person responsible for hiring in that area; don’t be discouraged and walk away.
  • Network with your fellow job-seekers – share information about job leads, companies, and their recruiting strategies and styles.
  • Don’t expect to be offered a job at the career fair, but it is not uncommon to get offered an interview. Know your schedule, and schedule any interview you can attend. If you’re not interested in the company, do not take the interview.
  • Be polite at all times. The person you meet in the parking lot, elevator, hallway, or restroom may be a recruiter you’ll see later that day.
  • If you expect companies to call for an interview/follow-up, make sure you have a “serious” message on your voicemail.
  • Follow up with any lead you learn of during the fair.  
 For more information, visit How to Work a Career Fair.

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