Career Fairs/Career Days can be a critical tool in your job search success-- whether you use it for networking with prospective employers, arranging an internship, or finding a job. Regardless of how you plan to take advantage of the career fair, here are some key tips to help you make the most of the experience!
Tips to Get the Most Out of the Career Fair:
Bring many copies of your resume to submit to employers.
Come prepared--do your homework. Before the fair, you can review the online directory of employers and their job opportunities. If you spend a little time getting some background on an organization, then you can ask very focused and specific questions. This impresses companies' representatives because it shows a genuine interest in them.
Dress appropriately. First impressions are important. Professional attire, or at least “business casual,” will allow you to make a good impression. Show up looking serious about your career.
Allow yourself adequate time. Come as early as possible. You may need to return between classes. Typically, fairs are the busiest during the lunch hour and at the end. Fairs close promptly at publicized ending times to accommodate employers' travel arrangements.
Prioritize the employers you're most interested in. If your schedule allows, you may find it easiest to start with the employers in which you're the least interested. This will allow you to hone your approach and to be most confident when you approach the employers you're especially excited about. Be sure to balance this tip with the reality that you may have little time and that many other students may be interested in the same employers. Assume that you will need to wait to speak with some employers.
Introduce yourself. Extend your hand, say "hello" and state your name. Welcome the representative to ULM and thank them for coming to the fair. Have your resume ready to give to the employer.
Take notes when you inquire about next steps and the possibility of talking with additional managers. The representative at the fair may not be able to answer all of your questions or know specifics about your job interests. Write down the names, telephone numbers, etc. of other staff in the organization whom you can contact later. Note specific employer information sessions, on-campus interviewing and projected hiring dates that will affect you. You will not be able to take advantage of this information if you don't record it.
Ask the representative for his/her card, and then promptly send a thank-you note. Having the business card of the representative you have just spoken with serves three purposes. First, you have a direct contact with the organization, including the proper spelling of the representative's name, direct telephone line, etc. Second, a brief thank-you note acknowledges the help he/she gave you and the time he/she took to visit the campus. Third, sending thank-you notes is a good professional habit.
Respect employers' materials/sample items. Some employers bring large quantities of print materials or "give aways" clearly intended for students to take. Other employers bring a few copies of print materials, sample products, etc. as displays at their tables. Always check with employers before taking materials from their tables.
Be courteous! In addition to representing yourself, you are also representing your department and the University. All the organizations at the fair are there because of their interest in hiring ULM students. Some representatives are ULM alumni. Demonstrate sensitivity to other students waiting to speak with employers by keeping your questions brief and offering to continue your conversation at a later time. Enjoy the fair and your interaction with the employers.