Career Fair Follow-up

The curtain has closed on the 2011 Hawk Career Fair. If you were one of the hundreds of students who attended you are probably sorting through the piles of business cards, company brochures, and employer giveaways that you collected at the event. The big question is, now what?

The last few weeks we have provided advice on this blog about preparing for the career fair; working on your personal branding statement, researching employers, and dressing for success. Now that the career fair is over, it is time to move on to the next step in your job search process – following up with the employers you met at the fair.

Some employers may have asked you to submit a copy of your resume to them through Hawk Jobs while others may have requested that you complete an online application through their company website. These are certainly essential steps in moving forward with the application and interview process, but don’t forget to also send a thank-you note to each of the employers you met during the Hawk Career Fair.

You can compose a quick e-mail that thanks the employers for taking the time to speak with you at the fair and reiterate your interest and fit for the job you discussed. Taking the time to follow-up with the employers will help to convey your professionalism and can even make the difference in helping you to stand out and land the job interviews you are seeking. It is a quick and easy way to make a good last impression!

Photo by: thesnail

How to Dress for a Career Fair

“Put your best foot forward.” “First impressions count.” “Dress for success.”

No matter how you say it, it does matter what you wear to a career fair. Whether you’re a senior, looking for your first, entry-level position, an underclassman looking for an internship, or a freshman who’s just looking to see what all the fuss is about, it’s important to be properly dressed for the occasion.

The Hawk Career Fair is coming up on Wednesday, September 28th and we want you to attend. However, if you aren’t appropriately dressed, someone is going to ask you to change into something more appropriate. What is appropriate? Look at some of these suggestions:

  • According to, “The US Department of Labor says 16 percent to 18 percent of all job seekers find jobs at career fairs. So the reality is that your formal interview begins the moment the person behind the booth lays eyes on you.”
  • According to “Business Casual is usually the most appropriate at job fair – nice slacks and a collared shirt for men (a tie is a good idea too) and nice slacks or a skirt and a blouse for women are appropriate. Make sure your clothes are clean and pressed. Avoid wearing excessive jewelry or clothing that is too short or revealing.”
  • suggests, among other things:  “Wear interview attire. In some cases business casual attire is also appropriate, but it’s better to err on the side of caution. Potential employers are much more impressed with those who overdress than those who are under-dressed.”

If, like me, you are more visual, here are a couple of sites with pictures:

My own piece of personal observation: Don’t forget to wear dress shoes (make sure they’re comfortable and polished)!

Photo by: brennuskrux

How to SELECTIVELY Research Employers BEFORE the Hawk Career Fair

As a UW-Whitewater student or graduate, you’ve already had many opportunities to conduct research. Consider the upcoming Hawk Career Fair one of your best opportunities, because this time, the potential reward is substantial.

The Hawk Career Fair takes place on Wednesday, September 28, from 12pm-4pm in the Williams Center. At the moment, 106 employers have registered to attend the event. So, how do you find a list of the organizations that will attend, along with their jobs and internships of their recruitment interest? If you haven’t done so already, you can quickly establish an account on Hawk Jobs by logging in with your NetID at the Student Login at

  • After logging in on Hawk Jobs, Click on the Career Fairs & Workshops tab
  • Under Category, select ‘Career Fair’ and then Search.
  • At Career Event Search Results, go to the Action column (on the right) and click on ‘Search Employers.’ Without using any filters, click Search to reveal the Organization Name, Industry and Website of all employers registered to attend the Fair. The best research option at this point is to click on the name of a particular organization name to reveal the Positions Available and Job Categories for which the employer is seeking candidates (for the ‘Hawk Career Fair). If an employer has attached a job or internship announcement to their profile, even better. Read the details of the announcement, and think of how you can connect your background to the characteristics sought by the employer. Be prepared to communicate the qualifications in your background to those identified in the announcement. Review the employer’s website, and mention something about that research that is relevant to your profession, that will distinguish you and which appeals to the recruiter.

Do you need to research all 100+ organizations? No, just do a selective, targeted search using some of the filters, such as Position Type, Major, or Job Category. By the way, some organizations may not have completely accurate, up to the moment information on their recruitment profile for the Fair. And although their profile may not have indicated an interest in your qualifications for the Hawk Career Fair itself, they may be interested in your qualifications in the near future, and by the time you graduate.

If you want to take your research one step further, use LinkedIn to identify UW-Whitewater graduates that are working for the employer in a similar capacity. Contact an alumnus, and find out directly from that graduate some personalized information about the employer, job, or internship itself. If you can take your research to this level by obtaining information from internal, informal sources as well as formal, canned sources, you will have an edge over your competition.

Photo by: sffoghorn

How to Introduce Yourself Effectively at the Career Fair

First impressions matter, a lot. I heard this from my mom, a long, long time ago. And, as usual, she was right. Recruiters tell us about their experience at our career fairs – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

One of their biggest frustrations they share is when students approach them and don’t say anything at all, or say the wrong thing. “What kind of job do you have for me?” is not a proper way to introduce yourself to a potential employer.  Oops! The good news is we can all improve our career fair skills.

John Grisham Gives a Me a Book

Realize that a career fair is a networking event. It is all about how effective you are in introducing yourself to recruiters, and how comfortable you appear while carrying out your part in a brief, focused conversation.

Develop and practice your self-pitch. Your self-pitch is what some people may call their “elevator pitch.” It’s a way to introduce yourself and communicate your personal brand. One of the main things we encourage students to do before the fair is to develop and practice your self-pitch, including the handshake. For some networking events your self-pitch may last about a minute, but for a career fair I suggest making it no longer than 30 seconds. When I’m the hiring manager, I want candidates to be enthusiastic about their chosen career path. Passion. I want to see their eyes light-up. For me, it’s maybe more of a feeling than the words they say.

Before writing your self-pitch, reflect. Why did you choose your particular career path? What excites you about working in this field in the future? Which of your values, interests and abilities best align with what’s needed to be successful in this field? What experience do you have that have helped you prepare to work in the field? Answering these questions and others will help you connect with your passion, to find your spark.

Knowing this, weave the spark into your introduction. Include in your introduction some of the basics: name and major, expected graduation date. Then find a way to include your spark into your self-pitch. I don’t believe there’s one, correct way to do this – everyone will have a slightly different self-pitch. By sharing your “spark” you will set yourself apart from the others who meet the recruiter. You’ll be remembered.

Photo by Scott Brenner.

Multicultural Career Fair

The annual Multicultural Career Fair will be held on Thursday, February 10, 2011 from Noon until 4:00pm on the UW-Whitewater campus in the University Center, Hamilton Room. This career fair is open to all students, providing attendees the opportunity to further develop their professional network by having focused conversations with recruiters. The opportunity to practice the skills associated with networking is extremely valuable, since many entry-level job seekers struggle with participating in succinct, meaningful conversations with prospective employers. I consistently hear from recruiters that many fair participants need to improve their skills in this area.

It’s best if students planning to attend the fair develop and practice their self-pitch prior to the day of the fair. A good self-pitch incorporates a good handshake and greeting that includes your name, major, year in school, and something that relates to that particular employer, such as an internship or work experience that you’ve had that aligns your career interest and direction with the employer.

Beyond the self-pitch, students will want to ask thoughtful questions of the recruiter. You won’t put your best foot forward if you ask the recruiter to tell you about their company or ask, “What does company X have for me?” Prepare your questions in advance, and be ready to ask one or two questions immediately after your self-pitch. Most likely your entire conversation will be brief, probably in the 2-3 minute range.

When you’re prepared for the job fair experience, you will stand out to the recruiter. See you at the fair!