Strong First Impressions Require Preparation

Career fairs, student conferences, and industry events are all great venues to meet those who work within and recruit for your future organization.  These events can be overwhelming due to so many students clamoring for the attention of a potential industry contact.  Therefore it’s essential that you set yourself apart from other attendees and make both a strong connection and initial impression.  You may only have a small window of opportunity, so in order to achieve this result, preparation is the key!

Research, research, research

Prior to attending the career fair, conference, or event, find out which companies and representatives will be in attendance. 

This information is typically published beforehand, but if it’s not easily accessible, reach out to the organizer of the event for assistance.  Simply by knowing in advance who will be in attendance, you’ve narrowed your scope and can now focus only on the top companies that interest you.  Once you have your list of the companies you want to connect with at the event, now you need to ensure that you’re up-to-date on their career openings, college programs, and recent company announcements or news. You can then use this information for potential conversation starters when you engage with the companies’ representatives.

Introduce yourself.

Two to three days before the event, make contact and introduce yourself to the representatives who will be in attendance. 

This could be in the form of a short email or a request to connect with them via LinkedIn. In the body of your message, you want to be sure to mention that you will be in attendance at the upcoming career fair, conference, or reception and are excited to connect with them regarding the specific college program or job opening that interests you.  Your message should be the written equivalent of your elevator speech–concise, articulate, and upbeat in tone.  Remember to attach a copy of your resume, and include your contact information in the message.

Bring your confidence

With your research complete and your introduction e-mails sent, you now want to focus on your appearance for the event and your conversation -starters. 

I’m a big believer that you don’t have to spend a ton on clothing, as long as the pieces fit you well. 

Ensure that your attire is appropriate for the setting.  Your clothing should look good (crisp and wrinkle-free) and fit well (both standing up and sitting down).  You’ll feel much more confident and comfortable if what you’re wearing compliments you instead of distracts or makes you feel awkward.  Although you want to express your individuality, I encourage you to align your appearance with the brand of your prospective company. If the brand is conservative, you want to be less edgy, minimize your accessories, removing facial piercings and earrings if you’re male.

Take the time to rehearse your conversation starters. 

You’ll feel more confident initiating conversation with your prospective companies’ representatives if you already know what you’re going to say.  Plan to subtly mention the message of introduction you sent earlier in the week.  It may help to actually rehearse your conversation starters in front of a mirror so you can critique your body language and be positive that you’re projecting an image of confidence.  Lastly, on the day of the event, be sure you’re well rested.  If you’re attending a career fair, don’t forget to bring enough copies of your resume.  Once you’re at the event, focus on engaging with your top companies first to ensure you have enough time to connect with each of them. Think positive, remember to breathe, and also smile.  There is no room for nervousness because you’ve prepared for the moment, and your preparation is what will ensure your success.


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, follow Hyatt on twitter @hyattcareers, become a Hyatt Facebook fan at Hyatt Hotels and Resorts Careers and follow the Campus Recruiter blog at

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