This time of year, it’s common for many colleges to host career fairs – events where many local and/or national companies come on campus to recruit for entry level positions. Career fairs offer an incredible opportunity to network with recruiters and market your skills. Here are some quick tips to help you prepare:
Most career fairs are organized by the Career Services office on campus. So, naturally, they will have a list of all events planned on campus, and all of the employers who plan on attending the event. Once you have the list, look for potential employers in your career field. Remember, depending on your major, do not worry about whether or not a company’s focus is in your specialty. For example, an IT company will also look for accountants, marketers and other managers. You may find your major useful in an unlikely place.
Next, go online to learn more about each company via their website: read their mission and values statements, look through their press releases or news sections, and look for information about the services they offer.
Then, look through the Careers section of their site to read about what it is like to work for the company and the benefits offered. Look through their list of open positions and see if there are any in your career field.
You can usually find the links to a company’s Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn profiles on their website. There, you can gain even more information – often first-hand from employees – about what it is like to work for the company.
Once you’ve selected your “top 10” companies from the list, you can target your networking efforts at the career fair, and ask intelligent questions about working for the company.
2.) Prepare Your Elevator Pitch
Your elevator “pitch” or speech is an important element of the networking process. This 30-second introduction will give you the chance to make a great first impression while showcasing your skills, knowledge and personality. In a nutshell, you want to introduce yourself, state why you are interested in working for a particular company, and provide some background on your skills and how you’re qualified to work in your major field by talking about your strengths and citing relevant examples of your work.
For more details about writing your elevator speech, read this.
3.) Prepare Your Resume
After you have made a great first impression with a recruiter, you will then be asked to leave your resume with him/her. The Career Services office on campus can help you write your resume if you do not yet have one.
Here are a few things to remember when writing: use keywords that are appropriate to the types of jobs that you’re interested in, cite examples of your accomplishments not just job descriptions for positions that you’ve held, think about transferable skills and how you can include them on your resume, and do not forget check for spelling and grammar mistakes.
For even more resume tips, click here.
4.) Dress Professionally
And last, but not least, choose appropriate attire. While you may dress fairly casual for class, consider a career fair to be the equivalent of a job interview. Men should wear slacks, a button down shirt and possibly a tie and jacket. Women should wear a pants suit, a skirt or an appropriate dress. Remember, when you walk up to an employer’s table at the career fair, their initial impression of you will be based your appearance. Look the part of a professional.
Career fairs are a great way to network with employers and begin the process of applying for your first job after college. With just a little preparation, you could be on your way to launching that amazing career you have been dreaming about. Good luck!
Trish is a senior communications manager for Sodexo, a world leader in quality of daily life solutions that contribute to the progress of individuals and the performance of organizations. As a member of the marketing and communications team for Sodexo’s Talent Acquisition department since 2010, Trish is an employment expert who aims to educate job candidates about the hiring process, networking opportunities and the culture of Sodexo. A graduate of Marist College (BA – Psychology) and the University of Southern Mississippi (MS – Public Relations), Trish has never been far from the classroom. As a former adjunct professor for the College of Charleston and professional advisor for the college’s Public Relations Student Society of America chapter, she enjoys helping students reach for their potential and guide them through the process of preparing for their future careers. A lover of technology and gadgets, cookies, chocolate and baking, Trish spends most of her free time raising two small children and competing with husband to obtain the most stamps in her National Parks Passport book. Feel free to connect with Trish or learn more about careers at Sodexo.