As many of you may know, the annual Spring Career Fair is this Wednesday, February 10. If you didn’t already know, you should be thankful I told you. This is an amazing opportunity for those who want to land the perfect internship for summer, a dream job after college, or even find opportunities for continuing education. It will be held in the Hamilton Room in the University Center from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM. There will be approximately 95 employers attending who will be ready to talk to you about your future and all the opportunities that await you. It’s also great for networking with professionals in your related fields.
A full list of the employers attending can be found on Hawk Jobs when doing the following: Click on the Career Events & Workshops tab towards the top of your screen, then click on the 2016 Spring Career Fair and finally click the View Employers Attending hyperlink towards the top. If you have any questions regarding the event, you can direct them to Career & Leadership Development.
Over my past three years attending UW-Whitewater, I’ve been to my share of career fairs and I have learned a lot about what to expect and how to handle them. I’ve also taken multiple career information classes on campus and have done my research on the Internet in order to prepare. Listed below are some popularly shared tips on how to manage career fairs and have a successful experience.
Do your research.
I don’t think there is anything more embarrassing than going up to a company and knowing absolute nothing about them. Asking questions such as “So what does your company do?” or “What positions are you hiring for?” is a huge red flag in recruiters’ eyes. Hawk Jobs gives you a full list of the companies and employers attending as well as what types of positions they are hiring for. Also, company websites are overflowing with this type of information, so there is no excuse to be unprepared. You do not have to research every single employer attending, just choose your top ten and go from there. The more interested you are in a company, the more research you should do. There’s nothing wrong with taking a few notes on a company before the fair and then reviewing those notes right before approaching the recruiter.
Dress to impress.
As mentioned on Hawk Jobs, business causal is required but business professional is recommended. Dress business professional, just do it. First impressions are immensely important at these types of events. Also, I can guarantee everyone around you will be dressed business professional. If you’re looking and feeling good you’ll be more confident and prepared for the day. Keep in mind, it is important to be comfortable too. P.S. Your name tag goes on your right hand side, so it is visible to the recruiter when shaking their hand.
Have a strategy and use your time wisely.
When you arrive, take a few minutes to review the map and directory for the fair which will be provided when you sign in. You may feel more comfortable if you quickly locate and walk by the employers that you’re most interested in. This will confirm their location and alert you to any crowds or lines of other students waiting. If you are limited on your time, prioritize the employers you’re most interested in and make sure you speak with them. If your schedule is more flexible, you may find it easiest to start with the employers in which you’re less interested. This will allow you to warm up a bit, master your approach/elevator pitch and to be more confident when you reach the employers you’re especially excited about. Basically, just keep an eye on the time, know your schedule and keep the most important employers to you a priority.
Be confident and enthusiastic.
Introduce yourself with a firm handshake, eye contact, a strong voice and a smile. Confidence can go a long way in the recruiters’ eyes. This is not the time to be laid back, causal and cool. This is a time to sell yourself and your talents to the recruiters.
Have your elevator pitch ready.
Your elevator pitch is a basic introduction of yourself that lasts about 30 seconds. This pitch includes your name, major, year in school and when you will be graduating. It also has what makes you unique such as previous work/internship/volunteer experience and how it will benefit the employer. Make sure you include your goals and the types of positions you’re interested in and relate those goals to the company you are speaking with. Finally, leave the recruiter with a strong impression by presenting them with your resume and asking for a business card.
Bring enough copies of your resume.
Make sure you print more than enough copies of your resume. Don’t only bring four or five for the top employers you want to speak with. Go in with an open mind, because you never know who you will be able to present yourself to or who could be interested in you. Also, I’ve had it before where employers will ask for more than one resume. So be on the safe side and do not hold pack on the number of copies you make. I would print at least ten for the day, if not more. You can buy resume paper at UC Information Services for only 15 cents a sheet.
Network and follow up.
Get business cards and take the initiative to ask for the next step in the process. Once you have this information follow up with recruiters via email, an online application or a hand written thank you note within 48 hours. Also, LinkedIn is a huge tool in networking and following up with recruiters. Connect with them on LinkedIn and shoot them a message so that they will remember you.
Hopefully these tips will help prepare you, give you a little more confidence and guide you throughout the day. Happy job hunting, Warhawks. I wish you all the best of luck!