I’ve attended a few career fairs in the past and I have also helped out at some career fairs, so I do know a few things about how to prepare for a career fair.
First and foremost, you should find out which companies will be at the career fair. The annual career fair hosted by my workplace always provides a list of the employers that will be attending. Prior to the fair, make sure you know the time, date, and location, and always plan ahead of time which booths you will be attending. Then, based off of what you’re interested in, research the companies you would like to work at. It’s important to know a few things about each company. Also, if it’s possible, find out exactly who is attending and learn a little bit about them, including what their position is and what they do. This shows that you have taken initiative, you are interested in the company, and you actually want to work there.
Next, fix up your resume. If you need to meet with your advisor, a sibling, or the resource center at your school, then make sure you do so. It’s important to fix and update your resume by adding current activities and job experiences. Employers do not want to see resumes that haven’t been updated in years. Bonus – if you can, tailor each resume to a specific company that you want to apply for. Yes, this may be tedious, especially if you want to meet and interact with 10 other companies, but this is a great way to prove to the company that you are serious about working with them. Having a tailored resume for a specific company is better than giving out generic resumes. Of course, if you don’t have time or if you’re not sure which companies you want to meet with, a generic resume is fine, but it’s always better to have a tailored one. To make sure you’re not confused about which resume is for which company, you can put a little sticky note on each resume with the name of each company.
After you update your resume, print out copies of them. I wouldn’t go overboard with the copies. I personally think 10 is fine, but if you want to keep your options open and meet with a ton of employers, then definitely make more copies. I’ve had students print their resumes on stock paper to make a good first impression. I’ve also had students put each resume in a seperate folder to give to the employers. Having a resume on a regular piece of white paper is fine too, but be careful not to fold it or crumble it. Employers love having neat papers handed to them, so make sure you put your resumes in a folder.
Finally, dress the part. Please do not go to a career fair in flip flops, shorts, and a tank top. I’ve seen my workplace look down upon students who do that. It’s not a good first impression. I’m not saying that you should come in a full suit and tie; I suggest a nice button-down or collared shirt. First impressions matter, so it’s important that you look presentable and professional.
Hopefully these tips will help you out at your next career fair. I’m curious to know how you guys prepare for a career fair. Let us know how you prepare, and feel free to comment if there are any tips that you’d like to add.