The new academic year is right around the corner, which means a clean slate for new opportunities and experiences. If you are a U.S. or international student that is on the job hunt, career fairs can be a great place to start networking.
Nowadays, universities have been hosting career fairs both in-person and virtually, making it much easier for students to attend. Although, before attending, there are a few things you will want to keep in mind in order to prepare.
Let’s take a look at some great preparation strategies that will set you up for success.
1. Check out what companies are attending and do your research.
Companies from a variety of industries participate in career fairs, so it is crucial that you find those that align with your goals and field of study. Universities often release a participation list prior to the fair, so be sure to select which companies will be your priority.
From there, dig into research about the companies you’re interested in. This includes visiting their website and pinpointing the company’s mission, objectives, core values, service offerings, and more. It may also help you to do some research on the specific industry to provide you with more knowledge. This will ensure you’re well prepared for any questions they may ask.
2. Have your elevator pitch ready.
Nailing your first impression can be quite intimidating, especially since you are one potential job candidate out of many. A great tip to stand out amongst the others is to perfect and personalize your elevator pitch.
Your elevator pitch should include an attention-grabbing introduction, an identified pain point and solution, what you do, and how you can add value to the organization. It’s important to keep this elevator pitch conversational and open. Make sure to practice this pitch out loud and ask family, friends, or professors for some feedback.
3. Prepare questions in advance.
Although the interactions you will have with recruiters aren’t necessarily interviews, you should still prepare a set of questions. This will help promote more conversation between you and the recruiter and will make better use of your time at the fair.
A key tip to remember is to not make your questions too general. If you can find the answer to your question on their website, don’t include it. Instead, tailor your questions towards learning more about the organization/position in a little more detail. Questions like the following are great examples:
- What is your company culture like?
- What professional development opportunities are available to your employees?
- What do the first 30, 60, 90 days look like on the job?
- What excites you about your own role at the company?
4. Revise and tailor your resume.
While we encourage you to use all of the tips within this article to prepare you for career fairs, this tip is absolutely essential. During both in-person and virtual career fairs, recruiters may ask you to either drop your resume off or send a PDF to them. This will allow them to thoroughly review your skillset, experience, education, and accomplishments to consider you for the job.
We highly recommend tailoring your resume for each potential employer. As we stated in the beginning of this article, you should research all companies you’re interested in. If you’re willing to put in time and effort, make sure to review keywords for job positions and customize your resume to fit that particular opening. Ultimately, this will differentiate yourself from other candidates who may be using a “one-size fits all” resume.
5. Make sure to choose the right attire.
Choosing the right attire will be important whether you are attending the career fair in-person or virtually. All in all, your attire is a big part of your first impression, can be a sign of respect for the recruiter, and shows how serious you are about being part of their team.
Avoid flip-flops, denim jeans or shorts, tank tops, tight-fitting clothing, or intense colors. For men, opt for neutral colored button-downs, polos, dress pants, polished shoes, and a tie. For women, a similar color scheme can apply. A dress, conservative skirt, blouse, flats, loafers, and pumps are a good guideline to what you will want to wear.
All things considered, career fairs are a great opportunity to showcase yourself and your talents. With proper preparation and a positive attitude, you’ll be successful in all of your interactions with potential employers.
About Comrise’s International and Student Relations Program
At Comrise, our International and Student Relations Program supports bicultural students looking to kickstart their career journey in the U.S. Comrise provides a variety of services ranging from job-matching opportunities, webinars, career fairs, guidance, and so much more.
If you’re interested in learning more, our Cross Border HR Specialist is here to help. Reach out to her through WeChat at YunfanMC, or through email at Yunfan.Li@comrise.com