Two easy ways to be successful at a career fair

Image by Ed Brennen, University Relations

There is no shortage of advice on attending a career fair. However, they all tend to focus on a few key points.

  • Yes, you should practice your introduction.
  • Yes, you should look at who’s attending and learn a little bit about them.
  • Yes, you should look the part by being neat in your appearance and dress.
  • Yes, you should follow up with recruiters afterwards.

However, in my 30-plus years running career fairs, there are two things that separate the prepared student from the successful student.

Being curious. Being friendly.

Be Curious

You can’t learn everything about an employer before the fair. (Although you should learn a little.) This is your chance to ask questions that you are curious about.

  • What skills are most important in the job?
  • What is the culture like at this company?
  • What do you look for in candidates?
  • What do you like about working at this company?
  • Can you tell me a little bit about the opportunities at your company?

Also, be curious about the variety of employers at the fair. Some will be names you might recognize. Others could be unknown to you. Discover them all. A great career doesn’t need to begin at a brand-name employer.

Be Friendly

Start with a warm and welcoming smile as you approach a recruiter. This sets the tone for your conversation. Your continued enthusiasm and politeness as you talk with them will leave a lasting impression.

Remember, you can do this. Companies try to send people who are good at talking with college students. They’ll be curious and friendly right back to you.

By Greg Denon
Greg Denon Associate Dean, Career Services & Cooperative Education