When you’re studying in the US and a job fair appears on your college campus, there can be many reactions. The first main reaction is typically fear. As you look down at your jeans and stained T-shirt, many questions may arise: “There was a job fair today?”, “Can freshmen even go?”, “Do I need to bring my resume?”, “Are there internships available?”, “I messed up at my last career fair; does that mean I’ll never find a job?” The second reaction is one of excitement. You have your crisp new suit, resume in hand and a smile that says “If you hire me you’ll be able to see this bright ray of sunshine in your workplace.” You’ve talked to counselors, practiced your handshake and even held mock interviews. You’re excited, you’re ready, and you’re determined to get a job. Of course, there is also a reaction of apathy—the “I’m not looking for a job right now” response. But regardless of your response to your college job fair, it is extremely important to put your best foot forward, not only at a college job fair, but anywhere in life- you never know who you’re going to meet. There will be a number of students at the college job fair speaking to the same companies that you are. Since there is a time crunch, make sure you prepare a 30 second blurb on who you are and why you are a great candidate that their company should look into. These are just a few tips offered by hiring agents to help you put your best foot forward and ensure that you either land a job or at the very least make a new connection.
Be professional: Pretend you’re not in college anymore and instead, you’re inside a business office shaking the hand of your potential new boss. It may be deceiving when the fair is held somewhere like the student commons, a place you venture for social fulfillment, but keep in mind that these are professionals looking for other professionals to help better their company. So dress and present yourself accordingly. The men and women on your campus today for the fair are not your fellow classmates, so speak to them as you would your boss in a respectful and confident tone, wear business attire, and come prepared.
Make sure you have a great resume on hand: This goes back to being professional and prepared. If you do not have a resume on hand, or if your resume lacks professionalism, then you will not come across as a prime candidate to the employers. You will want to know your resume like the back of your hand, as the employers may ask questions about your resume and you should not have to hesitate about the answers. Instead, take this opportunity to share more information on yourself that will make them remember you.
Be confident: Although it can be nerve-wracking attending your college job fair, remember that there will be other chances if this one doesn’t work out, so don’t be too nervous. Being hesitant or insecure is not a trait your future employer is looking for. Have a firm handshake, introduce yourself and tell them that it is a pleasure to meet them. Be confident in the skills you possess and do not be afraid to show them how you will make a good employee, but be careful to not come across as arrogant, as this can also be off-putting to the employers.
Research: If you get a list of the companies in attendance at the job fair beforehand, it is a good idea to research a few that you are interested and know what the company stands for. Knowing about their company will make you appear eager and interested, and the employers will appreciate you doing your homework.
These are a few of the main tips that hiring agents have for students attending a career fair. They may seem obvious, but students often forget these actions when they are in the moment a college job fair. Remember to take the fair seriously, but put it into perspective as well. Most importantly, put your best foot forward. At your college job fair, employers will see hundreds of contenders, and your first impression is highly important.
Are job fairs too far in the future for you? Make sure you pass this along to those who will be graduating soon!