As a recruiter in public accounting, I have attended many career fairs and student conferences. Through my experiences, I have met many wonderful candidates and some candidates who were less than prepared to meet potential employers. I always feel a little sad for those individuals who don’t seem to have the courage to approach our booth or make eye contact. It’s such a shame because we, as potential employers, really want to meet everyone.
Here are a few tips to consider before attending a career fair or the A&A Student Conference.
- Set a goal. Outline what it is that you’re trying to accomplish by attending the career fair. Whether you are trying to meet all employers or a specific employer, or perhaps trying to get an interview, know what your goal is.
- Research employers exhibiting. Go online and read about each exhibitor; look at their website. Make a plan for each booth that you want to visit. Come prepared with questions for potential employers.
- Dress professionally. You will only have a short amount of time to make an impression; don’t let your attire ruin your chances of a possible interview.
- Bring your resume. Bring plenty of copies of your updated resume. Distribute your resume to each employer that you meet.
- Collect business cards. As you wrap up your conversation with a potential employer, ask them for their business card. This will be very helpful in following up with potential employers.
- Come energized. No matter how nervous you may be, it’s imperative that you approach each booth with confidence and poise. Extend your hand and introduce yourself. Be prepared with some starter comments or questions. Remember that people gravitate to positive and enthusiastic people.
- Go solo. It’s tempting to visit booths with friends or classmates but this is not a group activity. One-on-one time with a potential employer is critical; this is about YOUR career.
- Market yourself. This may be the only chance you’ll have to sell yourself. Be prepared to share your career goals, your experiences and your strengths.
- Prepare questions. Outline a few questions to ask potential employers and really listen to their answers. After you leave the booth, jot down your own impressions or make any notes to help you remember the employer.
- Bring a portfolio. A portfolio is great for taking notes, carrying your resumes and collecting employer business cards. Avoid carrying too many items so your hand is free to greet potential employers.
- Use the time well. Career fairs are a great opportunity to meet several employers. Avoid the temptation to give up after only meeting a couple employers. Take advantage of the time and try to meet as many employers as possible. It is great experience and it may help you find the perfect position.
- Follow up. Send thank you notes or emails to the exhibitors. Let them know that you appreciated their time and enjoyed hearing about their business. Follow up specifically with any employer who indicated that they may have an opening or may contact you. Your chances of landing an interview are much greater if you follow up.