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How To Stand Out at a Career Fair Follow these eight tips to make a positive impression

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By Consiglia M. Intile, MA, NCC
NLU Assistant Director of Career Services

See upcoming NLU Career Fairs here

Attending career fairs is an excellent strategy for job seekers. Most job seekers face the challenge of getting a face-to-face interview with employers;  career fairs give you an opportunity to shake hands with the employer’s representatives and make your first impression count. To make sure you create a positive lasting impression, follow these eight tips below.

1). Research, Record, and Review

Once you register for the career fair in advance, you will have the opportunity to view the companies that will be attending. You can upload your resume on each employer’s website so they will have a copy on file. Research the companies, read their mission statements, goals and values, and make a list of the companies that interest you. You can jot down the company name and its mission statement on a piece of paper and review it before the day of the career fair.

2). Search for available positions and tailor your resume

Next, view all the opportunities that are available for each company you are interested in. Tailor your resume for each position; it makes you appear more marketable and impresses employers with your great interest in their positions.  If you need help with tailoring your resume, seek assistance from the Career Development Office. Make sure to bring multiple copies of each resume so every employer can have one to skim.

3). Practice your Elevator Pitch

This is a 30-second summary of your qualifications for the position you are applying to. It is very similar to the “Tell me about yourself” question given in an interview. A good way to practice this is with a friend or even in front of a mirror. One way to get started is to make a list of accomplishments or success stories you have had in your work experience and qualifications you have that would allow you to excel in the role you are targeting.

4). Make use of the time given

Plan to spend about two to three hours at the career fair. This gives you enough time to speak with each employer for the positions that interest you. These short interviews can run for 20-30 minutes and allow you to ask any questions you might have about the role or the company.

5). Avoid assuming that employers have your resume

Remember to give your tailored resume to the employer.  This shows you are serious about working for their organization, and you will be prepared to answer specific questions such as “why are you interested in this company or position?” because you have already done your research. Being prepared for a job fair increases your odds.

6). Dress to Impress

Remember a job fair is actually the same as going to an interview with an employer, only there are multiple employers interviewing candidates. Dress should be professional. For instance, candidates are advised to wear a suit and business-like shoes. Candidates should also be well-groomed. It is also recommended that women wear minimal makeup and  perfume along with simple jewelry, as these can be distractions that can affect the interview.

7). Avoid being forgotten

Once you have left the career fair, don’t let the employers forget they spoke with you. Make sure to send a thank-you letter to each employer you interviewed with. At the end of the conversation, don’t leave their table without grabbing a business card from each employer you interviewed with so you have all the information to create your thank you letter. Tip: Sending a handwritten thank you letter to each person you spoke with will surely separate you from the rest and leave a positive lasting impression.

8). Avoid losing contact with the employers

It is important to follow-up with each employer for the positions you were interviewed for. Following up should be done a week after the interviews took place. The goal is to obtain another opportunity to speak with them further and see what the next steps are with the interviewing process.