How to Handle a Career Fair
Career fairs of the past were difficult. Now that everything is virtual, you have the added burden of making sure the technology you are using is going to work - and you know how to use it. The information on this page will help you organize your thoughts and plan for the fair, as well as navigate the technological challenges that might arise during employer engagements.
Your first step
Find out a bit about what organizations or companies will be present. Determine what companies you would be interested in talking to. Identify what they offer as product and services; especially look for what they want in an employee, what their mission is, and the various divisions of their company. Make sure you sign up for employer sessions ASAP as you cannot speak to employers unless you attend a session. Sessions fill up fast!
Before the fair
How to prepare
Read Handshake's valuable guides on virtual fairs. Along with reading through Handshake's guide, here are a few helpful tips:
- Make sure your Handshake profile is set to community privacy settings
- Most employers will have qualifiers to attend their session - those could include major, school year, GPA and work authorization status. Make sure to complete your profile and upload a relevant master resume to your Handshake profile and make sure it is visible to employers
- Create and practice a 30 second introduction speech to highlight skills and experiences relevant to the employer.
- Be prepared to ask thoughtful questions on each company specifically. Be prepared to answer “why are you interested in our company?” Don’t forget to relax, be patient, and have a sense of humor.
- Where are you going to be during the fair? Will you have a private, quiet space? Find a location where you will not be interrupted and the background noise is minimal. If you need assistance finding a location, contact the Berry Career Institute.
Is your technology ready for the fair? Make sure to read through the following tips:
- Chrome is the recommended internet browser
- Use a laptop or desktop for your employer sessions, rather than a mobile device
- Allow pop-ups from Handshake in your browser so you can launch your video call feature
- It is recommended to turn your camera and microphone on before you click "join session" - once you are in the session you will have to turn the microphone on again
- Does your computer have a camera, speakers and microphone? Make sure those are working
- A wired connection is often faster than using wi-fi. Connect using an ethernet connection if possible
- Test your audio and video prior to the fair. Read more about technology best practices and a link to test internet, audio, and visual
- Check emails from the Berry Career Institute on the fair - you should have received a link to a zoom room for career help and tech troubleshooting
What to wear
Even though your sessions with employers are over video, you should still be conscious of what you wear and the impressions that it will give the representatives of the company. If you are attending the fair for full-time jobs or internships, it may be prudent to wear professional business attire. However, if you are attending to explore possible careers, looking at nonprofit organizations, or comparing graduate schools, business casual may be appropriate. Just remember that you are dressing for the job you want as well as to make a good first impression.
During the fair
Check in early and test your technology to make sure everything is working properly. Even though you don't have to physically explore a location, you should still take some time to look at available employer sessions and current job/internship postings. When you first join an employer session, it is a good idea to add your contact info into the chat in case either of you have technical issues.
It can be hard to convey the same excitement through video, but the same rules for interviewing apply. Introduce yourself with a smile let them know you are happy to talk to them. After they introduce themselves, give your 30 second introduction speech. Be sure to add why you are at the career fair. Be sure to repeat the recruiter’s name throughout your conversation to show that you actually care about the company.
Keep the conversation going
Begin by mentioning that you already know a bit about the company. Ask thoughtful questions about the company to further your understanding. Don’t ask broad general questions like “tell me a bit about your company” these will leave the burden on the recruiter and leave them frustrated. Inquire about opportunities for new graduates that have your major. If you find that you are interested in working for the organization, ask about the application process. Be aware of the time as your 1:1 session will be only 10-15 minutes (know how long yours will last going into it). Group sessions last 30 minutes, and you shouldn't expect to get the employer on their own to ask a lot of your questions.
Did you ask about the application process? Make sure they have a copy of your resume from your Handshake profile, or ask if they would like you to send a copy to them. Ask for a business card or company information. Mention what actions you will take i.e. submitting an application, visiting the company itself. Thank the recruiter and be sure to acknowledge by name.
After the fair
Review what you found out about the companies as soon as you can. Send a thank you to the companies you talked to. Even if you know you don't want to work for them, thank them for their time. You never know who will show up in your network down the road and that small courtesy now might lead to connections later. Always be sure to follow through with any action the recruiter recommended.