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Career Column with Jennifer Nice: Tips to prep for the Career Fair
Author: Jennifer Nice
Posted: January 27, 2017

‘Tis the season for career fairs. Whether you are a senior looking for a full-time job after graduation, a seasoned student seeking an internship, or a freshman just trying to get a taste of what the job search process looks like, career fairs are a great opportunity. Why? Employers come to campus to meet students. They want to hire you, otherwise they wouldn’t spend half their day shaking hands, collecting resumes, and talking to prospects. 

Take advantage of this opportunity and make the most of the career fair with these tips:

 

Before the career fair:


Decide who you want to talk to. There is a list of employers attending the School of Business 2/2/17 career fair here and you can look on CareerConnect for companies who will attend the All Majors Career Fair on 2/15/17. It’s impractical to meet everyone, so be sure to target the companies you’re most interested in.

Polish your resume. Bring several copies of your clean, updated resume. Keep in mind not all employers will want to collect resumes, depending on the company policy and/or personal preferences of the recruiter. Don’t forget a notepad and pen so you can jot down notes.

Plan your introduction. It’s advisable to have your elevator pitch rehearsed and ready to go. Be sure to practice this beforehand with a friend - and practice your handshake, too. The best handshake is firm and sincere, and remember to make eye contact.

Dress for success. Track down business professional or business casual clothes to wear at the fair. Yes, you’re a student, but leave the baseball caps, jeans, sunglasses, and gum at home. Don’t bring a bulky backpack, or at least store it before you enter the career fair. Find examples of appropriate clothing here.

Remember what mother taught you. Yep, get a good night’s sleep the night before, eat something healthy about an hour prior, and brush your teeth. This will help you feel energetic, confident, and do your best.

 

During the career fair:

 

Figure out where your target companies are. If there is a map available, plan your route and have a strategy to visit each employer.

Approach each table with confidence. After your introduction, be ready to listen and engage for a few minutes. Ask for their business card. But don’t monopolize their time; exit gracefully by thanking them for their time. If you’re genuinely interested, verbally affirm your interest. They will remember your enthusiasm.

Don’t be overly preoccupied with brand-name employers. They often have the most competitive employment scenarios. Smaller companies may offer excellent opportunities for growth and allow new hires to take on broader responsibilities early in their career.

Take regular breaks. Pause every so often to jot some notes about the companies you want to follow up with. Drink some water and catch your breath. Networking is hard work and you want to remain positive and energetic.

 

After the career fair:

 

Research the company. Do your due diligence to confirm you’re interested in a current or future position with that company. This will also help you write an effective cover letter when you apply.

Say thank you. Effective follow up is essential. Send a brief “thank you” email to the person you met with (this is why you asked for their business card!) and let them know you are applying to the position or are interested in future opportunities.

Don’t delay. Don’t wait to apply. You will always be busy and the window of opportunity is often brief.

Proofread. When you are ready to apply, remember to tailor your resume to the position. Use the same action verbs that are in the job description. Have a second set of eyes carefully review your resume and cover letter. This could be the difference between a resume that gets an interview and one that gets discarded.

 

Remember that the UPO offers express advising and career advising. Advisors have blocked out time for resume reviews on Monday, Jan. 30th from 10:00-4:00 in preparation for the career fair. Schedule your appointment today.

Jennifer Nice is the Career and Employer Relations Specialist for the School of Business Undergraduate Programs Office. She helps employers connect with qualified business students, interns, and alumni for employment opportunities. Connect with Jennifer, jnice@pdx.edu, to learn more about career development and employment outreach at PSU.