A Rockstar’s Guide to Attending Career Fairs

In the creative world, recruiters and hiring managers often go to career fairs looking to hire in the near future. However, even if you’re not looking for immediate employment, or if you do not see a company of interest on the list, attending is still a great way to network. We’ll show you how to be a career fair rockstar.

findspark career fair

Photo courtesy of Julia Leach

1. Research, research, research

Before a fair, look for a list of attending companies from the fair organizers. There is often a mix of companies you know and don’t know, and you may have your heart set on one or two of them. However, it can only benefit you to explore other companies. You may fall in love with a company you never knew existed!

Researching the company list is fundamental to your success at a career fair. Thorough research allows you to know who to talk to and how to talk to them. At the booth of big companies, there is often a big line of young creative hopefuls like you waiting. You can impress recruiters (from both big and small companies) by showing that you did you research about their business, their team structure and how you can contribute. The more specific and recent your talking points are, the better your chances of being remembered. findspark careerfair 2

Photo courtesy of Julia Leach

To research a company, first, glance through their website to get an idea of what they do. This is often summarized in the “About Us” section. If you decide that you are interested, you can proceed to look at other sections in their website, including their “Jobs” section. Even if it is a big company you know already, going to their website will allow you to see the latest highlights, which are often on the front page. You can also view more recent news related to them by going to Google News and searching for the company’s name. When you are doing your research, think about one or two questions you would like to ask the company based on what you see.

2. Prepare to Impress

After research, you should have a favorite list of companies and positions. Now, you would want to think about how to impress these companies, from hello to goodbye. A typical career fair conversation starts with you introducing yourself, the recruiter giving an overview of what the company does and what they are looking for, and you handing your resume to the recruiter and asking for their contact information to follow up. To introduce yourself, you could use a 30-second elevator pitch (in my opinion, any type of initial conversation with a potential employer should be approached as an elevator pitch). Check out this FindSpark guide to crafting stellar elevator pitches. At some point, you would want to find an opportunity to hand your resume to the recruiter. Before a career fair is a great time to create a resume or update your existing one. Here is our recap of resume advice from recruiters for our “Resumes and Cover Letters:  Advice from Real Recruiters” panel. That should help you get started.

3. Follow Up

Giving your resume to a recruiter is basically the point of a career fair, but it should not be the only thing that you do. To ensure your positive impression on the recruiter, the first step should be research, and the last step should be a thank-you note. You can also find our tips on thank-you notes here. Last but not the least, don’t forget to check the career fair website closer to the event since companies get added at the last minute (which could also turn out to be your favorite companies!). Do you have any additional tips on how to rock a career fair? Let us know in the comment section!

About the Author

I make a living being on Facebook all day, formerly at The New York Times, now at Havas Worldwide. Talk to me on Twitter @dsmadmenlife or on LinkedIn at Dai X. Cao.

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