Here's how to make the most out of a campus career fair
You're probably wondering if spending a good chunk of your day to brave the crowds and chat up recruiters who are unlikely to remember you thanks to the sheer volume of students they encounter is truly worth the effort. With the emergence of various job portals offering a variety of functions, from résumé checks to literature dedicated to career assistance, jobseekers young and old are spoiled for choice when it comes to gaining access to a comprehensive list of roles available. As for reaching out to hiring executives, most find it convenient to simply look up the relevant recruiting figures on professional social networking sites and dropping them a quick email. So, why bother going to a campus fair in the first place?
While all of the above is certainly true, technology can seem impersonal and will never be an adequate substitute for the face-to-face interactions that career fairs can offer. Here are a few tips for turning a brief encounter into a credible job opportunity:
● Dress to impress: Centuries ago, a character from Shakespeare's Hamlet famously quipped, "apparel oft proclaims the man," and this nugget of sartorial wisdom remains relevant to this day. Dress for the career fair the same way you would dress for a dream job interview – sharp, smart and professional. You want to give recruiters the impression that you are a capable, talented individual who pays attention to details. Opt for conservative tones such as black, blue and grey, and e kind to your toes by wearing comfortable shoes as you will be doing quite a bit of walking.
● Do your research: University career centers will usually email the student population the list of companies and recruiters attending the career fair a few days before the event, so set aside some time to curate a list of companies operating in your preferred industry. You will not have the time to interact with every company, so be wise in allocating your time. Check out their corporate website and social pages for preliminary research on job positions and relevant staff. If possible, drop a quick email to the headhunters that will be there, introducing yourself and explaining your interest in their job openings so that the recruiters will be better acquainted with you on the day of the career fair.
● Rehearse your pitch: You don't want to be tongue-tied upon your first encounter with the company executives, so prepare a short introduction covering your experience, skill sets and the reason for interest in that particular company. Memorise it so that you don't struggle to recall pertinent information when interacting with them. Ultimately, you want to give them a reason to remember – and hire – you.
● Ask the right questions: Basic questions include queries about the work culture and job environment. To better gauge, if you are suited for the role, ask about career progression possibilities for your specific skill set. If you are really invested in a specific role or company, ask the relevant executive or manager about their career journey in the organisation Do your best not to ask questions with answers readily available on the internet.
● Attend the clinics: Campus career fairs often have clinics offering résumé, attire, and interview-related tips and advice. No matter how well crafted your résumé is or how well-rehearsed your speech may be, a second opinion is necessary to pinpoint flaws and mistakes your eyes could not catch earlier. If you're nervous about how to present yourself in front of the recruiters, the career experts can advise you on how to conduct yourself.
● Follow up: After you've struck up fruitful conversations with recruiters don't let this great first impression go to waste! Their details will be on the business cards provided to you, so craft an email thanking them for an enjoyable discussion. Summarize your skills, reiterate your interest in the position, and attach your résumé, even if you have previously given it to them.
Best of luck!