Every semester you will see a variety of career fairs advertised hosted by different departments and organizations on and off campus. This is a great time to take advantage to a variety of employers all in one place. One of the biggest complaints job seekers have is the lack of human interaction during their job search. So often, you will submit all application materials online and will hear nothing back one way or the other which leaves a lot of unanswered questions.
A career fair gives you the opportunity to speak with a company representative/recruiter, ask questions, and allow them to get to know you a little before seeing your resume which is a huge benefit. Taking advantage of these opportunities to network, learn about employers, and/or look for a position is an important step in the job search. Being prepared for this is essential and not always easy.
Before the Event:
1) Do your research
A list of participating employers will always be available to students before a career fair and is a necessary tool in preparing. Use this list to begin researching possible positions you might be interested in applying for as well as the companies themselves. You may notice that recruiters are looking for specific majors, but most of the time, they are open to speaking to any major.
This will allow you to be better prepared when speaking with the representative. The Career Center offers a free app AU Career Fair+ that allows you to do research, see a map of the event, and even filter positions by major, type, and other criteria. Feel free to bring notes that you can glance at before the event.
2) Plan your route
When a map is available, plan who you will see and in what order. It never looks good to just go booth-to-booth, so plan to scatter and come back later to booths nearby.
3) Prepare your resumes
Have a variety of resumes for the different types of positions you are interested in pursuing. Remember to bring a copy into the Career Center to be reviewed before attending the events. Bring enough copies and make sure they are printed on resume paper.
4) Business cards
Some students choose to bring job search business cards with them as well in case the employer is not allowed to take a resume. The Career Center has printable sheets available for students for free if interested. This video will tell you more-
Day of event:
1) Dress the part
Business professional dress is always recommended and often required.
Women should also wear a suit with pressed conservative shirt and polished shoes. This suit may include pants or a skirt, but if you choose to wear a skirt, it should be knee length and hose are often suggested. All items should fit well and be clean and tidy. Shoes may be flat or low heels (less than 2 inches) and closed toe is recommended. Keep it classy; if you would wear it out to a club, it should not be included in your attire for these events so no cleavage, tight clothing, or super high heels.
This means full suit for men with polished shoes and pressed shirt and tie. Avoid crazy colors or distracting patterns and all items should be clean and well fitted.
Try to remember that your clothes should be unremarkable- you want to be remembered for what you say not what you wear. For ideas and suggestions-
2) Arrive early
Most employers have to travel home after the event and often pack up early. The early students tend to get to speak with employers before they get tired or pack up so it is beneficial to be there at the beginning of the fair.
At the event:
Shake hands (firm handshake) with all representatives and introduce yourself with your 30 second commercial.
Try to engage them in conversation and express interest while showing your knowledge of the company. If you notice that they have been talking to a lot of students without a break, it never hurts to offer to grab them a glass of water- good way to stand out.
Speak to representatives and other attendees as much as possible. You never know who you might meet and who they might know. Collect business cards and be sure to make notes before you leave to reflect upon when you follow-up.
Many companies will have giveaways but they can get bulky quickly. It is alright to take something if it is offered, but avoid being bogged down by swag. One suggestion is to go back to the table before you leave the event to pick up goodies so that your hands are free during to shake hands.
After the event:
1) Thank you notes
Write a thank you note to everyone you had contact with during the event. This is time consuming but a great way to stand out in a positive way and be remembered. This is where the business cards will come in handy for names, addresses, and helpful notes you took during/after the event. Send thank you notes within 24 hours for biggest impact. The only time a thank you note should be emailed is if a decision is set to be made the same day, all others should be sent through the mail.
2) Follow all given instructions
Many employers you meet at the fairs will tell you to go online to complete the official application process. Be sure to do this as soon as possible to ensure you are in the running for positions. Some employers will host next day interviews on campus. If you are invited to an interview, arrive professionally dressed, 5-10 minutes early, with resumes and don't forget the name of the person and company with which you are interviewing.
After following all directions of applying and sending the thank you note, it is appropriate to follow-up with the representatives you meet within 2 weeks to ensure all documents arrived and to restate interest. This is also customary when applying for positions that are not affiliated with a career fair. It is an essential part of the application process and can give you a chance to correct any problems with your application and give a voice to your documents.
With these few easy steps, you will be able to navigate a career fair like a professional. Remember, these employers are here to hire Auburn students, so take advantage of the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face.
For a list of all career events and fairs, visit the Career Center website.