How to prepare for success at career fairs
Ahead of the busy recruiting season on campus, it’s essential to prepare for your job search and learn how to navigate networking. While your career center may set up events to help you engage with employers and learn about opportunities, it’s important for you to do the leg work ahead of time to stand out from the crowd and increase your chances of landing the job. Here are a few tips for how you can better your chances for success while attending a career fair.
Do your research
Career fairs are typically very large networking events with hundreds of employers. Research the companies attending and find ones that match your values or job preferences. Learn more about an organization’s mission and office locations. What’s the culture like and do employees enjoy working there? Do they offer opportunities that match your job interests and major?
For example, at Fannie Mae, the corporate culture emphasizes work-life fit, inclusivity, and growth with roles primarily in analytics, finance, technology, and business. Jot down a few notes about the companies that match your preferences and questions to ask representatives at the booths. This will demonstrate your interest and show you prepared for a productive conversation.
Create your elevator pitch
The format of a career fair only allows for quick conversations between students and employers, so come prepared with why you are a good fit for the company. For example, many of Fannie Mae’s interns are attracted to the company because they want to learn more about housing, the mission, and the opportunity to start a full-time career after graduation.
Be able to talk briefly about your career interests and skills, and how they align to the job or company that interests you. Employers will be able to quickly understand how you fit in the organization and what relevant information they should share with you to help you move forward in your job search.
Close the conversation
When you find a good match, make sure you leave the conversation understanding the next steps and how you can continue to be considered for the job. Jot down any key recruiting deadlines or events taking place that are important for you to know. At career fairs, Fannie Mae encourages students to join their talent community and apply to jobs through the career website early in the semester as interviews take place on a rolling basis across the fall.
Make sure to ask for the representative’s contact information. Following up directly with the individual you speak with at the fair can help you stay connected to someone who can share your information directly with the recruiter.
Campus recruiting is a competitive process but taking the time and extra effort to prepare for a career fair can help you target the right employer, stand out from the crowd, and move to the next stage of your job search — and closer to your career goals.