Are you attending an upcoming career fair and wondering what to expect? Or how to prepare for a full day of conversations and making good first impressions--over and over? Whether you’ve been job hunting for a while or just starting, participating in a recruiting event can be exciting and stressful.
Uncertainties about what to wear, who to approach, and how to greet a recruiter can throw even the most poised person for a loop. So, Career Fair Plus (CF+) is sharing five proven tips to help you reduce the pressure and build your confidence before, during, and after the recruiting event.
Dress the part...
...or dress for success. Or look your best to do your best. Cliches sound good, especially rhyming ones, but is this advice valid? Yes.
As reported in Forbes, “...people who dress better have more confidence, feel more powerful, and are more focused on details. More importantly, people perceive well-dressed people as leaders…” Other research shows “wearing formal attire makes you feel more powerful, which leads to better creativity.”
Often referred to as business or professional attire, button-down shirts, blazers, and suits are dependable choices. Many university career centers and community organizations maintain "lending closets” since not everyone has interview clothes at their fingertips.
So, whether you’re borrowing, shopping, or already have the right clothes, plan your career fair day outfit well ahead of the event. Check for stains, missing buttons, a comfortable fit, then act accordingly. Oh, and make sure you have appropriate shoes, too!
Master the handshake or an alternative greeting
A professional appearance is essential, as is a confident, personable greeting. Before the career fair, practice conveying a positive, welcoming attitude, whether or not you’re comfortable shaking hands. Being polite, addressing people by their surname (unless invited to use their first name), and keeping eye contact help make a positive first impression.
If you’re comfortable shaking hands, present a firm grip for two or three seconds before letting go. A strong handshake shows confidence and portrays your interpersonal skills, important characteristics recruiters will notice. Alternatively, nodding your head, smiling, or even offering a quick wave are acceptable greetings, too.
As long as your introduction is genuine and communicates you appreciate the opportunity to meet them, you’re on your way to making a positive first impression.
Rehearse your elevator pitch
An elevator pitch is a 30-second speech, or approximately 75 words, summarizing who you are, what you do, why you'd be a perfect candidate, and sometimes ends with a call to action. Talking about yourself can be intimidating; packaging those words into a half-minute presentation is even more challenging.
Start small--get it right on paper first, then memorize it after you like the way it reads. Next, rehearse it in the mirror several times a day, ensuring you have that authentic smile and good eye contact we talked about earlier. The more familiar the speech and body language, the more confident you'll be sharing it with a potential employer.
Identifying and research your target employers
You can usually find a list of participating employers on the recruiting event website or request one from the fair host. If you’re attending a virtual career fair, a lot of useful introductory company information is in the recruiter profiles. Explore these resources to see open roles, company values, and any activities they’re planning for the job fair. Prioritize who you want to meet at which organizations, then if the event software allows, pre-schedule those meetings.
Even in the digital age, bring resume copies!
That list of target employers helps structure your career fair day and indicates how many copies of your resume to bring with you. For example, if you’re aiming to meet 12 employers, bring 13 copies of your resume.
Some employers might prefer a printed copy, even if you have a digital copy in your personal profile in the job fair software. Being prepared makes a positive first impression.
It takes planning and practice to create a successful career fair experience as a job seeker. Dressing professionally, presenting yourself authentically, and confidently delivering your elevator pitch can all lead to a post-event interview.
Everything you need to know about attending recruiting events
Career Fair+ is uniquely positioned to help you build in-person, virtual, and hybrid career fairs. Request a call with one of our super-friendly problem solvers today.