Navigating College Career Fairs: 5 Pre-event Strategies for SuccessOct 08, 2023
College career fairs are underway this Fall on campuses across the country. Many schools are again hosting in-person events for students to meet prospective employers, explore different career paths and secure summer internships and full-time roles. However, success at these events requires careful preparation and execution. Here are 5 pre-event strategies to help you maximize your chances of making a lasting impression at your college career fair and open the door to your next opportunity:
1. Research attending companies & sessions.
Review the list of participating employers and identify target companies to meet. In addition to exhibiting aisles of company booths, many college career fairs include workshops or seminars. Consider how each company is participating in the career fair as you figure out your strategy for engaging. Beyond staffing a booth, is the company hosting a group information session? Participating in any workshops or panels? Offering any interview opportunities? Look for any pre-registration opportunities for first-come, first-serve events with limited capacity, and note any application submission deadlines to be considered for any interview invitations.
2. Map out your plan.
Obtain a map of the career fair layout in the event space indicating where company booths will be located and where any group presentations or 1:1 interviews may be conducted. Note the times and locations of any pre-scheduled sessions in your phone calendar for easy reference, and plan your route to visit employer tables during open times.
3. Preview recruiter profiles on LinkedIn.
Many college career fairs have websites detailing the companies and specific contact names of employer attendees. Take note of representatives visiting from your target companies, and don’t be shy about visiting their LinkedIn profiles before the event. Not only will you learn more about their roles and paths, a LinkedIn profile visit can signal to recruiters that you are an interested, resourceful candidate they should meet! Attending executives may see you visited their LinkedIn profile page and reciprocate by viewing your profile, so make sure your LinkedIn profile is recruiter-ready at all times.
4. Polish, print and PDF your resume.
Update your resume to reflect your most recent experiences, and highlight relevant skills, coursework, and activities that make you a strong candidate for the positions you are pursuing. Make sure your contact information is clearly presented at the top, and your one page resume is formatted in a clear font and free of any typos. Create and save a PDF in your email or on your phone for any digital submissions at the event. Also be sure to have at least 10 printed copies you can distribute in-person to company reps.
5. Practice your elevator pitch & company questions.
Craft a brief, engaging introduction for yourself that includes your name, major, year in school and career interests. Practice delivering this elevator pitch until it flows naturally. It is your first chance to make a positive impression on recruiters. Also prepare some questions for company representatives to help you gain insights on each employer, what they are seeking in candidates, and how their hiring process works.
College career fairs can be transformational events in your job search journey. By diligently preparing before the event, you can stand out to employers and increase your chances of securing jobs or internships with your target companies. Remember, success often comes to those who are proactive, confident, and well-prepared.
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