By Jennifer Allen-Ayres, CES Career Advisor

Career Fairs don’t have to be scary!

Here are a few tips for maneuvering any career fair—so you can walk in the door with confidence and walk out having impressed recruiters, established network connections, and secured job or internship opportunities!

1. Know Your Goals for the Fair. (Ask yourself what you want out of the event.)

…Seeking opportunities? What kind? (Full-time, part-time, or summer? Jobs or internships? Local or national?)
…Want to learn about potential career options?
…Curious about a specific organization?
…Hope to practice and polish your networking skills?

Whether or not you’re seeking opportunities, knowing what you want to achieve helps to shape your conversations at the Career Fair. Recruiters appreciate when you let them know your goal, and they can better help you as a result.

2. Review and Research Employers attending the Career Fair

Be open to visiting with any or all of the recruiters, but definitely have your top 3-5 in mind before arriving. Do a little research, and impress recruiters with an understanding of what their organizations do.

3. Practice Your Elevator Pitch

This is your 30-second marketing opportunity! Introduce yourself. Share your name, major, and current or past career-related experiences.

Your intro is not an overview of your entire life, but a brief description of who you are professionally. Connect with the recruiter, and let them know why you’re there.

4. Prepare a Strong Resume 

Seeking jobs and internships? Demonstrate your qualifications and emphasize your strengths in an organized, easy-to-read resume.

This is one instance where an objective statement will benefit you. Give a brief overview of what you’re looking for. This helps recruiters know how to assist you during and after the Fair.

Bring multiple copies of your resume, but be prepared if you’re asked to submit it online. Also bring a portfolio/professional folder to hold copies of your resume along with a notepad and pen.

5. Prepare Questions to Ask Recruiters

Often, recruiters will ask what questions you have for them. You might ask what the culture of the organization is like, what qualities or experiences they’re looking for, what experiences you could add to be a stronger candidate, or what his/her experience has been like working for the employer.

Preparing a few informed questions in advance will calm nerves and help to project confidence.

6. Dress for Success

Yes, it may sound a little cliché, but it’s true. Wear something professional that makes you feel confident and gives a great first impression.

Be aware of body language—make eye contact, have good posture, and extend your hand for a firm handshake. A smile and positive attitude send a message everyone appreciates.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask CES for help with any aspect of Career Fair prep or follow up—from creating your resume or practicing your elevator pitch to sending thank you messages to employers after the fair! We’ll do our best to help you take the fear out of the Fair.

Jennifer Headshot
Jennifer Allen-Ayres, CES Career Advisor: “When I was a kid, I dreamed of being an Olympic gymnast… then a writer… then an architect… then a microbiologist… then an astronaut. I even went to Space Camp as a teenager. There have always been so many exciting possibilities—perhaps this is partly why I love being a career advisor!”

Photo Credit: Ross Mulhausen
© 2014 Career and Employment Services, University of Puget Sound