Keep Calm and Carry On: Navigating a Career Fair

IMG_0569If you learn nothing else from this post, learn this: preparation is the most important factor to representing yourself well at a career fair!

Here are some suggestions for how to prepare:

  1. Get your head straight: Career fairs are extremely busy. 70 employers participated at the one I just attended in addition to hundreds of job candidates. Be mentally prepared for this environment.
    • Take breaks: Don’t be shy to step outside to collect yourself between speaking with employers. I would frequently walk away from the fair to gather my papers and prep myself for the next employer I wanted to speak with. I would also drink water and re-apply chapstick (lol).
  2. Choose target companies: A list of participating organizations should be posted online. Choose 4-7 companies to approach. Go to each company’s website and print out a job description that you would be interested in. Bring this print out with you to the career fair.
    • Prioritize: Do thorough research on 2-3 companies which you are really interested in working with or learning more about. For these companies, prepare a short answer for why you are interested in the company, using a specific example from your research. For instance, “I really like your company because I found the recent product XYZ really innovative while still maintaining practicality. That definitely impressed me, and made me interested in working for your company.”
  3. Write a tailored resume: Using job descriptions from your top 3 target companies, write a resume that best fits the skills sought in those positions. Make sure that your resume is only one page.
  4. Bring business cards: THIS IS A MUST! You never know where your resume will end up; the business card is personal and more likely to stay with the person who you actually spoke with at the career fair.
  5. Charm them with your elevator speech: Be ready to tell the employer who you are and what you can bring to their company with a short elevator speech. Include information such as: your major or field of work, when you are graduating and how you have or plan to make an impact using what specific skills or knowledge.
    • For instance, “In March, I will graduate with a degree in Communication and Spanish in order to be effective in evaluating how employees interact with each other within an organization to effectively market the organization’s image as a whole. I’d like to use my proven analytical, organizational and leadership skills to add value to your campaign managment team.”
  6. Follow up: You will more than likely collect several business cards from employers. Be sure to have the email of everyone that you want to follow up with – and then follow up quickly! You should send them an email no more than 2 days later!

For more information on Western Washington University’s career fairs, visit http://www.wwu.edu/careers/.

Have questions about how to prepare for a career fair? Email me your thoughts and concerns at kinefcamara@gmail.com!

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