Career Fair: Top 5 things to do.

By Sol Garay |

A career fair is an event where multiple recruiters, hiring managers and employers can meet with job candidates in one convenient location. They are great opportunities to meet with potential employers, network with peers, and a way to put yourself out there. And with the Inland Empire Career Fair coming up on June 5th, we are here to share a list of the top 5 things you should do at a Career Fair.

  • Research
  • Elevator Speech
  • Create a Plan
  • Offer your Resume
  • Follow Up

1. Research

Prior to attending the career fair, it is important to know who is even going to the fair in the first place. In the weeks leading up to the event, start looking into the list of companies that will be attending. Once you have a completed list, you can filter which companies you’d want to speak with and which ones you can pass on. This way, you can maximize your time and energy on the companies that matter to you the most (more on this later).

Another reason why researching the companies prior to the career fair is useful, is so that you can have some things prepared to say. If the recruiter or employer asks you something like “Tell me about yourself” you can orientate your answers around similar values or goals of the company, which you’d already know since you did the research on them! Bonus tip: If the career fair did not release a list of companies attending, show up early and take some time to walk through the space and note down the companies available.

2. Elevator Speech

When you approach each booth or table, you want to have something prepared to say. This is where an elevator speech comes into play. Typically, an elevator speech should be around 30 seconds to a minute long; here are some items to include in your speech:

  • Your full name
  • College major or current job title
  • Your career aspirations
  • Why you think you are a good fit for the job

Elevator speeches are good to practice and memorize beforehand; however, you should be prepared to alter it slightly depending on who you are talking to.

3. Create a Plan

Creating a plan for a career fair can be critical in saving your time and energy, especially if you’re on a tight schedule. Once you arrive at the career fair, take a few minutes to survey the area and get familiar with the layout of the venue. Make a mental note of where your most important companies are located so that way you can prioritize them first. Also, pay attention to the lines in the booths or tables, perhaps you don’t feel like waiting in line for 10-minutes, so you can start with the booths that have little to no lines.

Bonus tip: Once you finish speaking with the companies that are most desirable to you, it wouldn’t hurt to speak with others if you have the time. Even if the company doesn’t offer a position that you desire, the recruiter you speak with might know someone in the field and they can refer you.  

4. Offer your Resume

Bringing in your resume in person can be a real game changer at career fairs. Most of the time the recruiter will ask you to submit your resume to their website and hand you a business card with their email address on it; But, if you hand them a physical copy of your resume in return, then it will help you stand out. You would be surprised by the number of people who don’t bring in their resumes with them to career or job fairs. In addition, this method guarantees that your resume will end up in the hands of as many people as possible.

Bonus tip: As you are speaking about yourself and highlighting the qualities that make you a perfect candidate, you can take out your resume and point to the information on it that supports your claims.

5. Follow Up

Just like in a job interview, you want to use a follow-up email after the career fair to show your excitement and gratitude for meeting with the recruiter or employer. Within 24 to 48 hours of the career fair, make sure to thank every recruiter that you spoke with. Even if you were not very interested in working with the company, it’s important to still thank them and keep those healthy relationships. You never know when you might see that recruiter again so make sure you leave them with positive memories of you.

Recruiters will meet with many potential employees at a career fair, so taking the time to send in a thank you note can help you stand out from the rest. Pro tip: Before you leave a booth or table, make sure to ask for the recruiter’s business card so that way you have their contact information available for when it’s time to start sending follow-up emails.

What do I bring to a Career Fair?

After reading through our top 5 things to do at a career fair, you might be sitting there thinking “Okay I know what to do now but what exactly should I bring?” Here is a brief list of items to take with you to a career or job fair:

  • Extra copies of your resume
  • Pen and paper
  • Business cards
  • A folder

Also, students don’t forget to dress appropriately! You wouldn’t want to hire someone in a tank top and flip-flops, would you?