Career Fairs can be challenging and overwhelming for students. At the same time, career fairs are great for students to find internships and permanent positions because there are so many employers in the same place at the same time. In order to ensure that you receive the most value from your career fair experience, consider the following points of advice on how to stand out from the crowd of attendees at a career fair.
Dress to impress
Start by taking the career fair experience seriously and wear your best professional dress attire. When considering a family selling their home, one of the recommendations that is often made is for them to strip their personal effects from the house and decorate in a manner that allows potential buyers to easily envision themselves living there. My reasoning for encouraging you to wear professional dress to the career fair is similar.
Since career fairs are about first impressions, you want to present the best image to the company representative and make them even more interested in getting to know you better. You want them to be able to envision you as part of the organization and that vision starts with your appearance and presentation.
Additionally, sometimes recruiters schedule or even conduct actual interviews during career fairs. You’ll feel most confident and prepared if you’re interviewing in your best suit as opposed to the jeans and t-shirt you originally may have considered wearing.
Open strong and speak with confidence
I know it’s difficult to initiate conversation with a recruiter, but if you want to stand out you have to do so! It’s very likely that a ton of attendees will walk up to the company’s booth and ask the representative “What do you have available?”, which is a passive approach. Instead, set yourself apart by taking a stronger and more confident approach.
Consider starting with “Hello, I’m (introduce yourself), a (freshman, sophomore, etc.) majoring in ____________. What positions would you suggest for someone who wants to begin their career or gain internship experience with your company?”
An even stronger opening can be achieved by researching a company’s college programs in advance and then asking a specific question about the program that most applies to you. For example, at Hyatt we have a Corporate Management Training Program for graduating seniors. At career fairs, I’m more impressed by the candidate who prepared in advance and spends his or her time with me and asking targeted questions, as opposed to the candidate who is just “stopping by” the booth.
Brave the career fair alone
Lastly, yes, sometimes there is comfort in numbers, but career fairs should be a solo experience. Focus on your goal of obtaining an internship or permanent position; you can bond with your friends at another time. You should bring plenty of copies of your resume and focus first on the employers that most interest you. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for the opportunity to interview or set up time in the coming weeks to discuss potential opportunities with the company’s representative. Within 24 hours, follow up with a note via email to the representative that you met during the career fair. The timing of your follow-up correspondence is important because you want to reach out while your interaction is still fresh in the recruiter’s mind.
It’s easy to get lost in the sea of career fair attendees, but with a preparation, you can take control and stand out from the crowd.
Ronisha is one of Hyatt’s College Recruiting Managers. Hyatt’s College Recruiters visit more than 30 college campuses each year recruiting top talent at hospitality programs across the country. A graduate of The Ohio State University, Ronisha begin her Hyatt career as a Human Resources Corporate Management Trainee. During her ten years with Hyatt, she has worked at Hyatt Hotels in Orlando, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey. To learn more about opportunities with Hyatt please visit hyatt.jobs, follow Hyatt on twitter @hyattcareers, become a Hyatt Facebook fan at Hyatt Hotels and Resorts Careers and follow the Campus Recruiter blog at blog.hyatt.jobs.