Not only have I set up and run my fair share of career fair booths, but I’ve also attended plenty of these events in my younger, postgrad days – so I know a thing or two about what goes on on both sides of the table. While internet job boards have become the more popular 21st-century means of finding premium entry level jobs and paid internships, career fairs put you in direct contact with hiring managers and recruiters – a big help in the need-to-know-someone career market. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the sea of employer booths.
Make a personal connection
Listening to a practiced spiel about opportunities and benefits is one thing, but you need to actually get up there and have a real conversation with company representatives. Building a personal connection with these people will help them put a face to your name, which gives you a major advantage when you submit an application later on.
Ask specific questions
I can tell you from experience that recruiters and hiring managers love (with a capital L) to speak in general terms about office culture, recruiting practices, ongoing projects and just about every other company-related topic you could think of. However, you should be sure to ask specific questions about what opportunities they’re willing to offer you to make the most informed decision possible – don’t just take their initial word for it.
I’ll admit this one seems a bit obvious, but you’d be surprised how many students and postgrads walk into job fairs in T-shirts and jeans like they’re ordering a cheeseburger at a fast food joint instead of starting a career. If you want recruiters to take you as a serious, desirable and professional candidate, you need to dress and act the part. Leave your slang and Saturday afternoon clothes behind in favor of a nice suit or dress.