5 Top Strategies For How to Bring Your "A" Game to Campus Job Fairs
April 9, 2017
Campus job fairs are an exciting opportunity to network, strengthen your interviewing skills and score a sweet gig. Campus recruitment is a preview of things to come after graduation. The better you become at selling your skills to prospective employers now, the better off you'll be at it down the line. While you can't control everything about finding a job, you can control what you bring to the experience.
Here are five top strategies to give you a competitive advantage at campus job fairs.
Research Employers That Interest You
Get a list of employers registered to appear at the job fair. Make time to review each employer's website, blog, LinkedIn page and other relevant resources prior to the job fair. Get a sense of each employer's history, mission statement and company culture. Use this information in your answers to related interview questions at the job fair.
Maintain a hard copy of a job search journal. It can be a simple tool notebook or pad that you use to record company research, key details to remember, company trivia, names of the people you met or would like to meet in follow up, and your ongoing thoughts about the entire process. Creating a tangible job search journal with pen and paper helps you better retain details about the overall process.
Pre-Register Online and Bring Your Portfolio
Pre-register for the job fair when possible. Online pre-registration, which is becoming more common, allows you to upload a professional resume that prospective employers might prescreen. Bring a professional portfolio with you to the job fair that contains at least 10 copies each of a list of your references, samples of your work, an internship cover letter and an updated version of your professional resume printed on professional stock quality paper.
A strong, standout cover letter for internship describes who you are as a potential candidate, why and how you excel at what you do, and also explains how your gifts and strengths can enrich the company. It also conveys genuine enthusiasm, or at least it should, for the companies you're most interested in at the campus job fair.
Act as If You're Already a Pro
Plan to arrive at the job fair early and stay late for extra interviews, if necessary. Wear business attire to make a positive first impression -- no matter the job fair venue, the types of employers present or the job you're seeking. Make direct contact, smile and shake hands firmly but comfortably. Network as much as possible, including with other job seekers who might be able to tell you about other job fairs, prospective employers and upcoming internships. Arrange your list of potential interviews by the employers you prefer most, reserving the morning for your top picks and the afternoon for all your other choices at the job fair. Be prepared to switch around the order if your top picks draw long lines of interested candidates.
Don’t Wing It
You have five or less minutes to dazzle a stranger at a campus job fair. Prepare an outline or a basic script and tweak it for each company and potential recruiter. Use your job search journal to jot down ideas, mini scripts and important details about yourself and your skill set that you want to address concisely. Practice answering common questions, such as "What brings you here today?" "What interests you about our company?" "What can you contribute to our team?"
Drill yourself until the most eloquent, unique answers flow naturally. Channel your favorite mentor. Next, devise thoughtful questions for the recruiter that relate directly to his or her role at the company and your desire to work there, such as "How long have you been with the company?" "What do you like most about working for them?" "How soon will I get a callback from you?"
Always Say Thank You
Distinguish yourself from hundreds of other applicants by sending a handwritten follow-up thank you note to each recruiter. Mail the notes the day after the job fair. Use the address on the recruiter's business card, which you hopefully collected at the job fair. In the note, restate the circumstance surrounding your introduction to the recruiter, reiterate your interest in the company, your interest in the related position and your qualifications for the job. Reach out with a thank you email, an attached copy of your professional resume and a LinkedIn invite.
Make a strong first impression on employers with a professional, positive attitude. Prep for your college job fair accordingly, and trounce the competition with smart attire, clean, crisp resumes and thoughtful follow-up thank you notes.
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