Tips for Attending a College Job Fair

Job fair
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Most college students, especially those who haven't attended many career fairs or any at all, view the prospect of attending a job fair with some trepidation.

How can you effectively navigate this scene where a mass of candidates are clamoring for attention from a large number of assembled employers? Here's how optimize your comfort and success at a job fair.

Top Ten Tips for Succeeding at a College Job Fair

1. Look for a list of participating employers on the website in advance of the program or contact the job fair sponsor to inquire about recruiting organizations.

Formulate a prioritized list of targets in industries of interest.

2. Research as many of these employers as possible. Learn a little about their recent successes and challenges. Try to find a genuine angle as to why they appeal to you given your own values and interests.

3. Carefully review the career, job or human resources section of the company website to identify internships or jobs which are a good match for your interests, skills, values and experience profile. Prospective college graduates should pay close attention to training programs. Prepare a statement or two to clearly convey why some of these jobs or types of jobs are a good fit given your strengths and interests.

4. Prepare a general "elevator speech" or short presentation of 20 - 30 seconds which you will use to introduce yourself to employers. In order to do this, try to think of 5 - 7 reasons why you would add value for most employers.

Ask friends, advisors, parents, past supervisors, faculty, and others who know you well for suggestions. Analyze your past successes as a student, volunteer, friend, employee, intern and campus leader and identify assets which have helped you to produce those successes.

5. Carefully prepare your wardrobe and appearance for the event.

In general, err on the side of being overdressed as opposed to underdressed since employers will be more forgiving if you are dressed very nicely. Do analyze the culture of your priority employers and show more flair if you targeting firms which value creativity in dress such companies in the fashion industry.

6. Arrive early so that you can access your priority employers before they are overcrowded with applicants. Try to cover as much territory as possible during the day since you may be surprised by employers with whom you were not originally familiar.

7. Don't be overly preoccupied with brand name employers since they may have the most competitive employment scenarios. Smaller employers who are not well known may offer wonderful opportunities and allow young hires to take on broader and more responsible roles early in their career.

8. Maintaining a positive, energetic attitude throughout the day will be critical to your success. Even though you may be articulating similar statements many times during the day, remember that it is the first time that each employer will be hearing from you and keep it fresh. Stand up straight, lean slightly forward to engage the recruiter, vary your vocal tone to punctuate your statements and exude a smiling, positive energy.

9. If you have a genuine interest in the employer, towards the end of your interaction, verbally affirm your interest in working with the organization or to further explore opportunities. Everything being equal, the most enthusiastic candidate will often gain an edge with competitive employers.

10. Effective follow up after the program will be essential for moving your employment prospects forward. Make sure you get the contact information for any of the interesting recruiters with whom you have met. As soon as possible after you leave the event compose a communication which briefly conveys why the firm is an excellent fit given your background. Make sure that you communicate a strong sense of your interest in a future meeting with the organization to further explore opportunities.

Thoughtful preparation prior to a job fair, effective execution at the event, and high quality follow up after the program can go a long way towards generating job offers from your next fair experience.

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