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How to Prepare for a Career Fair

Career Fair

Why attend a career fair?

  • Explore different fields and discover positions, companies, and career opportunities.
  • Develop a network of contacts,-approximately 70 percent of jobs are found through networking (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
  • Gain experience interacting in a professional environment.
  • Find out what employers seek in applicants (skills, experiences, qualities)
  • Meet potential contacts for informational interviews
  • Get noticed by companies. Employers from previous career fairs reported that they planned to follow up with at least one student, and the majority planned to follow-up with 5 to 10+ candidates.
     

Before the fair, you must prepare:

  • Check GoldPASS (goldpass.umn.edu) for upcoming career fair dates in the “Career Events” section. The U of M Job Fair is held every February. Register in advance! GoldPASS will have information about all companies attending and positions available.
  • Research 5-10 employers in advance (use GoldPass and the company websites) so that when you approach them you are able to articulate why you are interested in their organization and can ask specific questions. See the Researching Organizations handout for research strategies.
  • Prepare your 30-second “Elevator Pitch” to introduce yourself. Be ready to answer some basic questions about yourself and why you are interested in the company and positions.
    Update and print your resume and include enough for your prioritized list, plus at least 10 extra copies in a portfolio professional folder.
     

At the fair:

  • Arrive early and familiarize yourself with the floor plan.
  • Consider “warming up” with organizations that are lower on your priority list before approaching your top choices.
  • When you approach an employer, give a firm handshake, make eye contact, smile, and introduce yourself.
  • Offer your resume to the employer and tell them about yourself (see “networking introduction/elevator pitch”).
  • Be polite, honest, and enthusiastic. Speak slowly, clearly, and concretely. Most importantly, relax and be yourself.
  • Ask employers about their hiring process and how you can be considered for opportunities.
  • If an employer directs you to apply online, don’t be discouraged. It is important that you make an impression at the booth. Some employers will note if you visit the booth and later verify that you applied online.
  • Download the Guidebook App for the UMN Job Fair and/or other fairs. Bring your copies of your resume, a pen, pad of paper for notes/padfolio, list of companies, positions and questions with you to the fair.
  • Before you leave, ask for a business card and their preferred method of follow up. Thank them for their time. Be sure to take notes in between each employer so that you can personalize your follow up Thank you email.
     

Prepare your Networking Introduction/Elevator Pitch

Introduce yourself in a professional manner when meeting with a professional.

Present: (Name, Major, Year in School)
Past: (Something you have done related to the position and a skill that you have developed)
Future: (Something that interests about the position, company or your general career interests)
Ask: (Ask a question about the position, department or about company)
 

What to Wear to the Fair?

Dress is business professional. Blazers, pant or skirt suits are preferred. Slacks and a button down shirt or nice sweater would also be appropriate. Wear comfortable shoes.
 

After the fair:

  • Reflect upon what you did well at the career fair and what you can improve on for next time.
  • Send a thank you to the employers you spoke with within 48 hours. It is acceptable to email your thank you note. Remind employer of date/place, mention something unique about your conversation, express appreciation for time/information (be specific about what you talked about). If you applied online for the position(s) you spoke about include this as well.
  • Consider connecting with the recruiter or following the company on LinkedIn.
  • Apply for any positions that you are interested in that you learned about from the career fair.
     

Example Thank You Note:

Dear Ms. Murphy, It was nice to meet you at the University of Minnesota Job and Internship Fair this afternoon. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me about internship opportunities at your company. It was exciting to hear about _____________________________. I also enjoyed learning about ______________. As you advised, I applied for the internship online, but I also wanted to send you a copy of my resume. Do you know when you will be contacting applicants? Or, is there another person you recommend me connecting with to learn more about the position? Any information would be helpful as I am very excited about this opportunity. Thank you again for taking the time to talk to me at the career fair. I look forward to hearing from you! If you have any further questions I can be contacted at XXX-XXX-XXXX.

Sincerely, Jessie James

Prepare for interviews by scheduling a Practice/Mock Interview with the CBS Career Team at z.umn.edu/CBSCareerSupport.