What to do before, during and after a career fair

How to show up prepared, professional and memorable
An employer speaking to a career fair attendee

Career fairs are probably best known as a way to find work, but they’re also a great event to add to your career exploration and development toolkit. You can meet multiple employers and learn if they’re the right fit for your interests, then get the inside scoop on future opportunities. And, it’s a fantastic way to build your network and get your name out there with recruiters!

Even if you’re not actively on the job search, attending a career fair can help you discover potential careers you may not have known about or even considered, and learn which skills are in demand for new grads so you can make more informed decisions about your studies.

Career Services hosts various fairs throughout the year, such as the Industry Career Fair and the Winter Career Fair, as well as more specialized events like the Grad School Fair and Education Fair. If you’re planning to check one out, here are our tips to ensure you’re prepared, professional and memorable.

Before the fair:

  • Update your resume and LinkedIn: You may not be sharing your resume or LinkedIn,  but it’s good to make sure they’re up to date, just in case! The practice of updating your resume and LinkedIn can help you reflect on your professional career.
  • Be prepared to talk about yourself: Consider your career goals and the kinds of work you’d be interested in. How you would summarize your education, skills and projects that you’ve been working on?
  • Do your research: Check out which employers/organizations will be attending. This way, you can create a shortlist of ones you’re most interested in speaking to, and do a little research on them so you can ask in-depth questions
  • Set goals for your experience: Have some rough goals for what a “successful” career fair day might look like. Do you want to have more clarity about your career plan? Do you want to have a shortlist of employers to begin applying to? Do you want to learn what education you need to get the job?

On the day of the fair:

  • Dress professionally: While you don’t need to dress formally, it helps to appear professional when speaking with recruiters. Another element of professionalism is to have your job search documents ready, in case an employer requests them. Have a copy of your resume/CV or links to your portfolio or LinkedIn profile.
  • Be curious: Have an open mind when exploring the fair. Try and approach employers outside your ideal industry; you might find fitting opportunities with them!
  • Create quality connections: Be genuine when speaking with recruiters and think of questions other than, “are you hiring?” If you feel you’ve connected with a peer or employer,  ask them how you can follow up after the fair.
  • Network with everyone: Recruiters are the obvious option for networking, but don’t forget to talk to Career Services staff and your fellow students — you could learn valuable information from them!

After the fair:

  • Reflect: Evaluate your experience based on the goals you set before the fair. How did you feel about the fair? Did you find any employers you’d want to look into? Are there any next steps to take?
  • Follow up with your connections: If you connected with a recruiter or employer, you could send a note by email or LinkedIn to keep the conversation going. You can also use social media to engage with employers or your network afterwards.
  • Take action: Keep the momentum going by booking career advising on Elevate, requesting information interviews, finding mentors or starting your job search.

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