Now that you’ve learned about writing a cover letter and resume and received some interviewing tips, let’s take a look at how to prepare for a job fair. Since job fairs are your first step to networking with professionals and getting your foot in the door at their workplaces, you want to make sure you present yourself in a professional manner. Erica Fox from CCBC’s Career Services Center shares a few tips this week on how to make the most of job fairs.
What is your most useful tip for preparing for a job fair?
From my experience with the CCBC Annual Job and Career Fair, one of the most important ways to prepare is to research the companies you are interested in talking with and prepare ahead of time what you want to say to the representatives from that company. You can find an updated list of the companies who are planning on attending our Job and Career Fair here. The list also includes their hiring interests and company website.
What exactly should attendees know about these companies? Should they research ALL of them? That’s a long list!
No, you don’t need to research all of them. A prepared job seeker will identify the companies whose hiring interests match their professional skill set, will get familiar with those companies’ websites, and will plan on making time to talk to the representatives from that company the day of the fair. A candidate needs to think about why they would want to work for a particular company, know what types of services the company provides, and prepare to describe to the company representative why they think they would be a good fit for the company. A candidate needs to be able to introduce themselves and describe what they do, what they are interested in doing, and also be able to identify and describe their key strengths. This is referred to as an “elevator pitch.”
Any suggestions on what college students should use as their “elevator pitch”?
Students should provide basic information on their college education and briefly mention any extra activities and internships that could benefit the company.
Here is an example of a college student elevator pitch from job-hunt.org:
“Hi, my name is Sam Ward. I’m a computer science major with an art minor, and I’m really excited about combining these two interests. I’ve actually developed an interactive educational program to teach children how to draw. I’d love the chance to explore entry-level job opportunities with dynamic, creative software companies in the Houston area.”
Do you have any other quick tips for talking with employers?
Be confident, be clear, make eye contact, and be gracious when talking to employers. A firm, but not too firm, handshake is important, too. Also, don’t forget to dress professionally. Employers from past Job and Career Fairs at CCBC have expressed their desire to see more candidates dressing professionally, who come prepared with resumes, and who are clear with their description of themselves and their career goals. You do not want to walk up to a company’s table in jeans and a T-shirt and ask a company representative “What does your company do, and who are you looking to hire?” You want to make a good impression, so be prepared.
CCBC’s Job and Career Fair is quickly approaching! If you want to practice your interviewing and networking skills, contact a staff member today.
– Amy McKissic, CCBC Publications Coordinator