Different Ways to Communicate at a Career Fair

23 Sep

Last week I attended my first career fair. Even though I knew that few of the companies would hire sophomores as interns, I wanted to expose myself to this
new environment when I had less pressure to perform. Here is what I learned on my trial run:

Make Good First Impressions

A recruiter’s first impression of you is crucial because in a matter of seconds he or she will judge to see if you will be a good fit for the company. Dress professionally and be confident. The way you look and how you feel translate into how you act. Your body language communicates more to the recruiter than your words. Remember to smile, stand up straight, and have good eye contact. You only get one first impression so make the most of it. 

Look and Sound Prepared

Make a list of all the companies you are interested in, then cross them off as you visit them. Research the basics of the company and find out which positions are available. Bring a folder or portfolio to carry pamphlets and business cards. Many companies will attract you with free items but use self-control and refrain from taking everything. You do not want to walk around with a handful of food and water bottles. Communicate to the companies that you are organized and professional.

Sell Yourself to the Recruiters

Prepare a 30-second pitch about yourself that highlights your skills and accomplishments. Before you approach a company that you are interested in, first walk around the venue and practice on ones that you are not considering. Print many copies of your résumé and have a few copies ready to hand out. Speak enthusiastically about yourself and why you are passionate about that company.

Network with Other Students

Talk with people in line as you wait. The career fair is not only a great opportunity for you to connect with recruiters but also with other students. These students can inform you about other internship opportunities that you did not know about. Try to talk to people who have already spoken with the companies you are targeting because they may give you useful advice.

Communicate with Yourself

Decide for yourself what is important to you. Do you want a job where you will be working with people? Do you want a job that is in a specific city? Do you want a job that pays well? Then, acknowledge your fears about attending a career fair. Are you afraid you won’t find a job? Are you intimidated by competition? The more you know about yourself and your desires, the more successful your experience will be.

by Nneka Onwuzurike

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2 Responses to “Different Ways to Communicate at a Career Fair”

  1. Gregory Porter September 28, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

    Enjoyed the post, Nneka. I also just went to my first career fair and really saw the value of the suggestions you made. Being confident and coming prepared, two things you mentioned, are both vital to being someone the recruiter actually remembers. Putting these tips on the blog for everyone to see will really help Wash U students step up their game at these events. Obviously, we are all going for ourselves, but more companies will come to the events if they perceive Wash U students to be of the highest quality. At the career fair, I was surprised to see how many students came under-dressed, unprepared, and with no resume. Great advice!

  2. Katie Bush October 17, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    Nneka,
    As someone who is terrified of career fairs, I really appreciate this post! In particular, I’ve heard about the importance of a 30-second pitch before, and appreciated you integrating that in your article. As difficult as it may be to have a separate pitch prepared for every company on your list, I agree that knowing how to sell yourself is extremely important! Thanks for the post!
    Katie

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