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Prepare for the Job Fair

September 22, 2017
Students and employers at a job fair
Job fairs are a great learning experience that helps you with future career events and job opportunities.

By: Sam Stein

It’s already that time of year where students are bringing out their best resumes, shiny shoes, and that one shirt that doesn’t have a spaghetti sauce stain on it. For the more experienced college student, this week is known as Job Fair Week, the legendary event that happens a few times a year and causes students everywhere on campus to flood into the writing centers and advisors offices to get a little help on their resume and maybe even some advice on what to wear since you can’t put on a fashion show for your mom anymore. Don’t panic, while preparing for the job fair sounds like a daunting task (and actually going sounds even worse), there isn’t anything to worry about. Whether you are a freshman or a senior, there is always a little pressure to be the best version of you so we have put together a list of tips to help you prepare for the job fair and know what to do when you get there!

  1. Don’t stress; the week prior to every job fair is usually dedicated to helping you get prepared. Professionals are brought in and hold workshop sessions (usually located in the Union) that will help you with everything from etiquette to what employers want to see on your resume.

  2. If you don’t have time to pop into a workshop, stop by your advisors office and have them take a look at your resume and cover letter. Their feedback is usually the best since they actually know you and what your skills are. They are also well informed as to what specific employers in your field of study are looking for in a future employee.

  3. Set up a Handshake profile. This is a professional social media site that allows you to look at what companies are looking for and can help you narrow your focus as to where you want to work as well as what you want to do. You can also allow employers to find you on Handshake, so make sure you keep it professional! Actually, do that with all of your social media just in case they type your name into the Google search bar.

  4. Dust off those fancy shoes and grab that collared shirt your mom LOVES on you (she’s right, pale blue definitely makes your eyes pop.) Even if you don’t own a Versace suit (it’s not the Oscars), you can still make a great first impression with stuff you already own. Wear black slacks or dark wash jeans (preferably with no holes in them), a nice pair of shoes that don’t smell like sweaty socks and a nice button-up or blouse. You can throw on a blazer for added flair if you have one on hand. How you look is your first impression, so make a good one. If you’re seeking some inspiration, type “business outfits” into Safari while walking to your 8am class or have your fashionista friend play dress-up with you.

  5. Print off plenty of resumes and keep them in a nice folder when you go to the job fair. Not only will this keep your resume safe from harm, but it also gives you a place to but any business cards of pamphlets that employers are handing out.

  6. Speaking of business cards, it wouldn’t hurt to get a set of your own. You can design them and buy them for pretty cheap online and they are a great way to get your name and information out there during any networking event.

  7. Get to know employers before you go. Information about the employers attending the job fairs are posted online and on Handshake, so take a few minutes here and there to scope out the employers so you know a bit about them before you go to their booth. They will be impressed if you can tell them about their mission as a company and why that aligns with what you see yourself doing in the future. It’s a great way to get them to remember you!

  8. Make a list of the employers you want to talk to and go to them first. The job fairs get busy quick so have an agenda before you go so you don’t spend too much time looking at places you aren’t as interested in working for. Spend the most time with employers you can see yourself working for and then meander to the other booths to drop off resumes and get your name out there.

  9. Be ready to talk a bit about yourself. Job fairs are, in a sense, a “pre-interview.” Employers are likely to ask you a few questions about yourself (what you are studying, what career you want to pursue.) This is a great time to show them your people skills as well as talk yourself up a bit. Hint at a few of your skills and strengths so they want to give you a call for an actual interview.

  10. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get an interview. Sure, some people you know will get a call back from an employer or two, but the main goal of the job fair (especially if you are an underclassman) is to get your face out there, explore your options, and to learn how to sell yourself to employers and how to talk to industry professionals. There will always be more opportunities for you to look for jobs and internships.

Now, take a deep breath, make sure your shoes are tied, and hold your head up high. The job fair isn’t just about getting a job; it’s a great learning experience that will help you with future career events and in preparing for future job opportunities. Hopefully these tips gave you a bit more confidence, and will help you throughout your time in college. If you have any questions or tips and tricks leave us a comment! Have fun and good luck!

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