How to Make a Great First Impression at Your College Career Fair

As the fall semester begins, that can only mean one thing for college students: their school's Career Fair is right around the corner. College Career Fairs, also referred to as Job Fairs or Career Expo's, are students' first glimpse at companies, giving them a chance to interact with potential employers and learn about the opportunities available to them. Recruiters and employers are often meeting many students in a short span of time, so if students want to stand out, preparation should begin much before the fair.

What to Do Before the Career Fair

  1. Update your resume. Prior to the fair, be sure to utilize your school's Career Services which can provide resume reviews. Look over all of the information to ensure it is up-to-date and accurate. Ask yourself if it is organized in a cohesive manner and be sure to include your GPA. Lastly, do not forget to make plenty of copies to handout.
  2. Practice your elevator pitch. Have a few things to say about your background and interests because often, the first thing an employer will say is, "So tell me about yourself." You can use this as an opportunity to stand out among the other students. This can also be a great time to express why you are interested in a specific job or industry.
  3. Have a plan. Be sure to do your research. Know which companies you want to speak to before the fair and take a few notes on each. Avoid asking questions with answers that are easily found online, but instead ask more probing things like, "Can you tell me about a day in the life of a Business Analyst?" or "What has your experience with Excelacom been like?" These answers may be extremely valuable when it comes to determining if a company may be a fit for you. Social media can also provide insight into a company's culture, so it is best to check those sources as well.

As You Enter the Career Fair

  1. Complete the following minor checklist:
    • Silence and stow away phone
    • Write your nametag neatly and be sure it is visible
    • Throw away any chewing gum
    • Check that you have all resumes copies and a pen or two
    • Don't be nervous!

At the Employer's Booth

  1. Engage with the company representatives. Your best chance at doing this is by not only showing that you've done your research, but by showing genuine interest as well. Maintain eye contact and try avoiding words such as, "um or uh." Ask for a business card as well as more information about the hiring process because you will want to know how you can go about getting an interview.
  2. Maintain your professionalism. Chances are, a company may have sent some of their recent graduates to the Career Fair, but just because they are your peer does not mean you should completely disregard your sense of professionalism. Use a handshake as a greeting and avoid speaking too casually and veering off topic.
  3. Ensure you are dressed your best. This tends to go along with professionalism, but dressing in your best suit is a key to success. You will want to exude confidence and maturity with your outfit, so avoid anything too revealing or too sloppy.

Following Up After the Career Fair

  1. Send a thank you. Hopefully in your conversation with the company representative, you were able to attain their business card so you have the best method of reaching them.Write a brief thank you and include an attachment of your resume, even if you had given them a paper copy previously.
  2. Don't be afraid to connect on LinkedIn. Clicking the 'connect' button is one extra step that can show your genuine interest in a position and you shouldn't hesitate in doing so. Not only can recruiters potentially find out more information about you than what is listed on your resume, but you might see relevant company news or blogs that can be useful in future conversations.
  3. Ask about other events the company is attending on your campus. It's normal to be overwhelmed at a Career Fair and may be hard to show your true personality when a line of other students is forming behind you, so look for other opportunities to engage with a company. Most likely, they'll be hosting info sessions or attending smaller campus events. This type of setting can take your initial impression one step further.

The Career Fair is just the beginning of your path towards finding a job or an internship, but if you use these tips you will be very well prepared to make a great first impression! If you are interested in applying for a job with Excelacom, please apply on our website: