Sweat the Small Stuff: Considerations for your Career Fair Checklist

Resumes. Check.
Ironed professional attire. Check
Talking points and elevator pitch. Check
A 13-gallon bag for free pens and highlighters… Check.

With the Hawk Career Fair less than three days away, the above questions may be similar to your pre-career fair checklist. It is a great practice to plan prior to the career fair through researching employers, revising your resume, and developing your elevator pitch. However, make sure you have considered the common concerns, such as updated copies of a resume, as well as those seemingly small concerns.

Career Fair 3

Benjamin Franklin once said, “A small leak can sink a great ship”. Here are a few seemingly small concerns that contribute to career fair success:

Avoid the SWAG

  • On first glance, this phrase goes against everything that popular culture tells us. At career fairs, employers’ tables are filled with SWAG (Stuff We All Get) and it is tempting to re-stock on pens and to pick up a few snack size candy bars. The career fair is the time to showcase your skills and network with employers. So, be sensible with SWAG: ask for a pen or two, accept SWAG when offered, but keep your eyes on the prize.

Take Notes

  • One student can easily connect with 5-10 employers within an hour. Each conversation may bring a different outcome including an offer to follow-up by e-mail or information about an unlisted job. After an hour of career fair stimulation one can easily forget this information. Be sure to carry a small note pad or use a padfolio to keep notes of conversations you have with employers.

Leave your Wingman at the Door

  • While you may travel to the career fair with a friend, avoid connecting with employers in groups. This can cause a myriad of challenges and detract from your own attempt at expressing your skills and interest in an employer.

Collect Cards

  • Employers attend the career fair to learn more about students and find potential interns and employees, so naturally they are interested in networking and receiving resumes following conversations. Similarly, make sure you get the contact information of the recruiters you speak with by asking for a card after each conversation.

No Need for Aromas

  • In many ways, career fairs should be treated like interviews. In interviews, you do not want your perfume to bring your interviewer to tears or cause a coughing attack. In the same way, be considerate to other career fair goers and recruiters. Avoid colognes, perfumes, and smoking prior to the career fair.

These are just a few considerations to place on your checklist. If you have not already prepared for the Hawk Career Fair, schedule an appointment with Career and Leadership Development. Also, as you are entering the Hawk Career Fair on Wednesday, feel free to stop by Career and Leadership Development’s table at the entrance for a last check. Doing the small things right can lead to grand opportunities!

See you at the Hawk Career Fair!

Photo by UWW Career.

Preparing in Advance for the Hawk Career Fair – Even If You’re Not “Perfect”

During a recent appointment, I met with a student who wanted assistance with her resume. In our conversation, her effective communication skills and interpersonal presence were apparent, and I suggested that she consider attending the Hawk Career Fair on September 26.

She was not aware of the Fair, and was almost apologetic with her concerns that she was: a) not a business major; b) not very involved on campus; and, c) that her 2.9 GPA might not be good enough to merit serious consideration from employers. She wondered if it would still be worthwhile to attend the Fair, given her “imperfections”.

We began to talk about her accomplishments outside of her academic identity. Some of her “imperfections” were due to the fact that she worked about 30 hours per week while being a full-time student. We discussed how her work ethic itself was distinguishing and appealing, and that she could focus on that, along with her effective interpersonal skills and presence, and lead with those attributes to promote herself at the Hawk Career Fair.

Moral to the story:  You don’t have to be “perfect” to attend the Hawk Career Fair. Just lead with your strengths, and let the conversation unfold from there.

Hawk Career Fair

To prepare in advance of the Fair, research the employers and the jobs and internships of their recruitment interest. How do you find that information? Here are the steps:

  • Log into Hawk Jobs with your Net ID on the Student Login page.
  • After logging in on Hawk Jobs, click on the Career Fairs & Workshops tab.
  • Click directly on Hawk Career Fair.
  • Select ‘View Employers’. At this point, scroll through the names of employers, or use filters, and then click on the name of a particular employer to reveal the Positions Available, Majors, Degrees Sought and Job Categories. The name of the recruiter(s) may also be revealed. If you want to gain a competitive advantage, you can really distinguish yourself if you contact recruiters and introduce yourself appropriately and effectively to them prior to the Fair.
  • If an employer has attached a job or internship announcement to their profile, read the details of the announcement, and think of how you can connect your background to the characteristics sought by the employer.

How ever you have grown and developed as a person, you can draw from all of your experiences to promote yourself to employers. Just think about the knowledge and skills that you possess – whether related to your academic identity or not – and articulate them in an appealing way.

If you need help with this process, you’re welcome to schedule an appointment with someone in Career & Leadership Development, where we can help you identify skills and attributes that you already possess.

Photo by UWW Career.

The Benefits of Attending the Hawk Career Fair

A new school year has just begun and while you are starting to get acclimated to your class schedule and back into the school routine, it is also time to start thinking about your career or internship search. Now is the time to mark your calendar for an event on the very near horizon that is of great importance to all students looking for full-time jobs or internships. 

The 2012 Hawk Career Fair is scheduled for Wednesday, September 26 from 12:00 – 4:00pm in the Williams Center – Gym 1. The event will feature over 100 employers looking to talk to students from all academic disciplines.

So I am sure a few of you are asking yourself…why should I attend the career fair? With this question in mind, I present three key reasons why you – yes, you – should attend the Hawk Career Fair:

  1. Learn about specific industries, organizations, and careers – With over 100 employers registered for the event, there is a wide variety of full-time job opportunities and internships to explore. Visit the Career Fairs tab in Hawk Jobs to view the current list of employers and the job opportunities they are looking to hire for. 
  2. Networking – The career fair gives you the opportunity to meet with employer representatives face-to-face. You can talk about your resume and sell your skills and experiences to employers while getting your questions answered. Where else will you have an opportunity to meet with over 100 employers in one room, at one time?          
  3. Find a job! – Granted, you will not actually get hired at the career fair itself, but this is one of the first steps in the interviewing and hiring process for most employers. Employers will be attending the Hawk Career Fair looking to talk to you! They are eager to discuss their career opportunities and are seeking new talent to hire into their organizations – and they are looking to hire now. That’s right – employers will be looking for candidates for full-time jobs and for internships for the summer of 2013 at the Hawk Career Fair. 

The time to begin your search for full-time jobs and internships is now. Take advantage of the opportunity to meet with the over 100 employers that are coming to campus to meet and hire UW-Whitewater students! Between now and September 26, take the time to review the list of participating employers and the jobs they have to offer and polish your resume and personal branding statements.

If you need assistance, schedule a meeting with a member of the Career & Leadership Development team. For a quick resume review, you can also stop by the “Resume Doctor” events at Andersen Library on September 18, 19, and 20 from 1:00 – 4:00pm.

See you at the 2012 Hawk Career Fair!

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A student talking to a First Business Bank representative at last year’s Hawk Career Fair.

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 Monster.com, “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 EmploymentGuide.com: “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.”
  • Ehow.com 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 http://www.uww.edu/career/hawkjobs.php.

  • 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