Tips & tricks to excel at your campus career fair
As a lot of you may have realized, college is all fun and games until it’s time to find an internship, or even worse, a full time job! This is when it’s time to get serious. One of the best ways to ensure you graduate with a job, or start the summer with an internship, is to take advantage of the campus career fair. At Kansas State University, they have at least one career fair every semester. This is to help students that are graduating in December or May. However, just because you go to the career fair doesn’t mean your guaranteed a job. Here are some tips and tricks to help you put your best foot forward at the career fair so that you may be selected for the interview round.
1) Build a strong resume. – This one is obvious, but still one of the most important. Also, it is often times still not done correctly. It is very important to make sure your resume is free of any errors. The best way to do that is have someone else look at it. A new set of eyes does wonders! Another thing that is strongly recommended, but not mandatory is to keep your resume down to one full page instead of front and back. Some employers will not mind a longer resume, but there is also a chance that they will forget to look at the back and then will miss out on half of your achievements. Lastly, have several copies printed out (on resume paper) to give to all the companies you talk to.
2) Practice your elevator speech. – An elevator speech is a 30 second to one minute introduction that explains who you are, what important experiences you have had, and what kind of job opportunities you are currently looking for. Basically, it will sum up your resume. You don’t want the speech to sound rehearsed and monotone, but it does need to sound smooth and make you look like you are confident.
3) Do your research. – Most career fairs will know in advance what companies are coming to the career fair and what kind of positons they are looking for. This information should be posted somewhere on the internet for students to access. This will help you figure out what companies you are interested in and what positions they have available. It is important to look up the basic facts about a company before you talk to them at a career fair because it will set you apart from other candidates and show that you are serious about potentially becoming one of their employees.
4) Make a game plan. – The website that tells about all the companies will also have a place that shows you where every company will be located the day of the career fair. Print this paper out so that you are able to easily find the companies that you are interested in. This can save you a lot of time and frustration. It is also a good idea to number the companies in order of importance to you. Stop by the companies that you are least interested in first so that you can have a couple practices before you try to snag your dream job.
5) Dress to impress. – Proper attire for a career fair is always business professional. This means slacks, appropriate dresses, pantyhose, blazers, and flats or pumps. This excludes jeans, t-shirts, tennis shoes, any ripped clothing, and any bright colors or patterns. Also, keep jewelry to a minimum. Dressing properly for the career fair will show that you are serious about finding a job and it helps you make a positive first impression.
6) Only bring the essentials. – When you go to the career fair it is important to bring a professional portfolio, extra copies of your resume, a pen, some paper for notes, and the layout of the booths for the career fair. Having these things not only makes you look put together, but should also keep you from running into any situations where you are not prepared. Do not take in your cell phone unless you know that you have big enough pockets that the phone will not be seen.
7) Have a strong handshake. – This is an oldie, but a goodie. Potential employers will pay attention to how you shake your hand. Don’t be a limp fish. Have a firm, strong handshake. Also, make eye contact with the person that you are shaking hands with to show that you are confident and be sure to smile. After all, they are people just like us.
This is just a small list of things that you can do to prepare yourself for your campus career fair. Just remember to be confident and be yourself. You might really like a company, but then find out they are not a good fit for you and that’s okay. The right opportunity will come along; you just have to be prepared for when it does.
Best of luck to everyone lucking for jobs and internships.