Career Fair Prep: Increase your network of professional contacts

PREPARE TO ATTEND THE FAIR

  • Identify your field(s) of interestand examine what skillsyou have that would be related.
  • Create your 30-second pitch to be used in your introduction. 
  • Develop résumés for each field you are interested in and print multiple copies on résumé paper. Employers may request one to stay in touch with you.
  • Research the organizations attending the fair and integrate that knowledge into your networking questions. You will impress them with the initiative you took to research the organization’s mission, purpose, clients served, etc.
  • Buy/borrow an interview suit or outfit that makes you feel confident and comfortable. Business professional is the standard for most industries.
  • Buy/borrow a folder or carrying case to hold your résumés, keys, paper, pencil, and business cards so that your hands are free for handshakes.
  • Study the layout of the fair and be prepared to visit key employers. 
  • Have questions ready for employers (sample questions below).

 

EXCEL AT THE FAIR

  • Give employers what they are looking for: skills, confidence, be respectful.
  • Before entering the fair, take one more look in the mirror. If possible, check your bag and coat so you can focus on keeping your hands free.
  • Be conscious of the employer’s time, especially if there is a line behind you.
  • Do not be distracted by the employers give aways and gimmicks.
  • Display your name tag on your right side below your shoulder. The visual reminder will help some employers remember your name.
  • If you have to wait in a line to speak to employers, listen to others’ conversations. Use the information to make your questions even better.
  • Talk to employers who approach you. Every professional is a potential contact, no matter what department or organization they work for!
  • Now that you have spoken with some professionals, ask them if you can contact them in the future (a crucial step in the networking relationship).

 

POST FAIR TIPS

  • Ask representatives for business cards, and follow-up with a short thank-you letter.
  • Mark your calendar with reminders to follow-up with employers (this depends on the time line of your job or internship search).
  • If you have an extensive conversation with an employer, consider inviting them to contact with you on LinkedIn or follow their organization on LinkedIn.com.
  • Engage with the organizations of interest through social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, etc.).
  • Find your organization of interest in Careers4Terps’Employer Directory and click the “favorite star”. All events the employer posts on Careers4Terps will appear under “Notification” located on the Home page of Careers4Terps.

 

SAMPLE QUESTIONS

The best questions initiate from a genuine interest. Focus on asking questions that allow you to gain inside information about the work culture or application process.

  • I am researching career options for the future and your organization really interests me. I am not currently looking for a position, but I was hoping to learn more about the day-to-day duties for XX position.
  • What is the typical recruiting timeline for positions in the XX field?
  • What additional skills would make a candidate competitive for this position?
  • Where do you see this field going in the next 10 years?
  • What do you believe are the crucial skills for this position?
  • Are there preferred skills for this position that many applicants don’t have?
  • The information you have shared has been so helpful. Would it be ok if I contacted you in the future if I have another question?
  • What kind of projects are you currently working on?
  • I see you are a UMD alum, what was your major? How did you hear about your position?