When spring rolls around—and seniors begin to realize that time is really starting to run out—many colleges will hold job fairs and give students a chance to get some one-on-one time with employers before the “real life” job search starts.
Because you won’t have any professional work experience when you start applying for jobs, your résumé won’t be as impressive as many of the other candidates’ and you’ll need to take advantage of every opportunity that you can when it comes to getting an “in” with potential employers.
To maximize your chance of employment, you’ll need to make the most of your college job fair.
Prepare Your Resume
The first step in having a successful job fair experience begins long before the job fair takes place.
Employers are going to be talking to a very large number of students, and you need to make sure that you stand out from all of the others. It’s one thing to stand out while you’re at the job fair, but it will take more than that: your résumé needs make you out to be a top-notch university recruit.
Because the employer will be taking résumés with them and reviewing them later, it will be of great benefit to you if it stands out and helps them to remember who you are.
Make up a draft of a résumé using a template (you can find these in many places, including on Monster and MSN) and then bring it to your college’s career center and have it looked over by at least two people. Make sure that it’s as professional-looking and –sounding as possible.
Once you’ve prepared your résumé for the job fair, you’re ready to prepare yourself. In the same way as you want your resume to stand out, you want yourself to stand out.
It’s difficult to take someone seriously if they aren’t dressed seriously, so make sure that your appearance is immaculate. There’s no such thing as being over-dressed for a job fair; a suit or a sports jacket and tie is certainly called for. Men should make sure that they are clean-shaven; both men and women should make sure that their hair is done well.
A conservative look will make sure that you appeal to as many employers as possible. Now is not the time to show that you can combine professional and casual looks successfully.
Be traditional. It may be boring, but it’s effective. Carry your resumes in a portfolio; it looks a lot better than carrying a bunch in your hand or in a backpack.
When you finally reach the job fair, it’s essential that you conduct yourself in as professional a manner as possible.
- Be extremely polite, address with “sir” or “ma’am,”
- Do not interrupt conversations, speak clearly and use proper English
- Speak with as many potential employers as possible
- Make sure that you have enough resumes to distribute to all of them
- Ask questions about their companies and tell them why you would be a good candidate for their positions
- Make sure to tailor your conversations to each individual employer.
A last note on making the most of your college job fair: be confident in yourself. You’ve completed (or will soon complete) four years of college. You’re ready to take on the adult world. Let it show.