Making the most of a career fair
Prepare for the Career Fair: (watch the video)
Career Fairs provide an opportunity to explore careers, obtain employer information and develop contacts to use in applying for full-time, internship, and summer positions. Employers attend career fairs to increase student awareness about their organization and the careers they offer, to identify potential candidates for future hiring needs, and to fill specific positions they may currently have available. Most career fairs do not present formal opportunities for individual interviews; they simply provide a chance for the student and employer to briefly meet to share information and discuss potential opportunities.
The following guidelines are designed to help you make the most of your experience; for further questions, please come to our walk-in hours here at the Cohen Career Center.
1. If you are in job-seeking mode, clarify your interests and goals before you go. If you need help with this, meet with a career advisor (call 221-3231 to schedule an appointment).
2. If you are in career exploration mode, say so up front when you meet the recruiter!
- Review the list of employers who will be there and research those that interest you to learn all you can about them and how you might fit into their organization. On campus career fair employers are listed in TribeCareers.wm.edu; the link will be in the right-hand column.
- Have a strategy...prepare a list of the top 5-10 employers you want to meet, and be sure to see them first.
- Prepare a resume that will be relevant to the particular employers you plan to see at the fair, and bring several copies. You may also want to prepare a "generic" resume that can be used for other employers.
- However, understand that more and more of the larger employers are using online application procedures. Don't feel put off if the recruiter tells you to visit his or her website instead of taking resume!
- Prepare a 20 second "commercial" about yourself that will briefly, but enthusiastically, show your strengths, skills, experience, and interest. Don't feel awkward about this; recruiters expect this little introductory spiel from you because it makes it easier for them to determine what to talk to you about. Practice your commercial on your friends so that you are comfortable with it.
- The 30 second 'self commercial':
Good afternoon! I'm Shelia Jones. I'm looking for marketing/PR types of positions. I have experience with analyzing target audiences before designing, implementing and evaluating market strategies. I'm good at public speaking and presenting. I've supplemented my Psychology major with Business Marketing coursework. I'm energetic outgoing and creative. I know that your organization is branching into a new product field and I would love the opportunity to contribute to the effort
- The 30 second 'self commercial':
Mentally prepare sample questions:
- Can you tell me something about available internships?
- What opportunities do you have for people with good _______ (pick your strongest skills or those you'd most like to use--analyticals, interpersonal skills, etc.)
- What typical responsibilities are given to entry-level personnel within your marketing division?
- Do you plan to visit campus to interview students, or should I send my resume directly to your attention?
At the fair:
- Dress professionally in business or business casual attire.
- Career Fairs are a valuable opportunity to obtain information about employers you aren't familiar with; request information from the employers about positions and obtain any literature they have available.
- If lines are too long for some employers, visit less crowded ones and return later. However, since some employers may leave the fair early, don't wait too late in the day to make contact.
When talking with employers:
- Greet them with a firm handshake and your 'self commercial'
- Have your resume readily available; also bring a notepad listing your questions and providing space to take notes.
- Again, increasingly the larger employers are accepting applications online only--don't feel put off if the recruiter refers you to his or her website instead of collecting your resume.
- Maintain good eye contact.
- Tell them if you are interested in a specific position or if you are simply trying to gather information about opportunities.
- Indicate your knowledge of the organization, obtained through research.
- Enthusiastically communicate your related interests, skills, strengths, and experience.
- Ask questions, but not about salary and benefits until you are being considered seriously as a candidate.
- Communicate quickly and succinctly; you don't want to monopolize their time.
- Obtain a business card, or write down contact information. Ask the representative how you should follow up.
After the fair:
- Write the employers you are interested in, thanking them for their time and information. Include another resume and any other information you have promised to send (e.g. a completed application, writing sample, recommendations, transcript).
- Check Tribe Careers to see if the employers will be interviewing here on campus, and if they will, mention that you would like to meet with them when they visit William & Mary.
Some employers interview here on campus very soon after the career fair.
You must fulfill three requirements before you will be able to interview with employers here on campus, the sooner you fulfill these requirements the less likely it will be that you miss out on an opportunity to interview here on campus with an employer you meet at the Career Fair.:
- You must have your resume formally 'approved', not just critiqued, by the Career Center (come to our walk-in hours, or set up an appointment)
- You must attend an interviewing workshop
- You must participate in a Mock Interview
These requirements apply ONLY to on-campus interviewing; you are welcome and encouraged to attend the career fair without restriction.