How To Work the Expo – Tips for Before, During, and After

By: Anna Salas

The Career & Public Service Expo is coming up very soon! On Wednesday, September 12, employers, graduate school representatives, and government organizations will all be here at UNC Charlotte looking for students just like YOU to serve as full-time employees, interns, and future grad students.  It’s a wonderful opportunity for UNCC students to talk and network with recruiters and perhaps even obtain an interview, but nevertheless, I’ve had some students shake their heads ‘no’ when I ask if they will be attending. In many cases, they shy away because talking to employers can be a daunting task. Thankfully, adequate preparation and knowledge of what you should be doing before, during, and after a career fair can both ease your nerves and maximize your chances of career fair success!

BEFORE THE FAIR

  • Make copies of your resume: Ensure that you have enough copies of your resume to hand out to recruiters.  Also bring a pen and paper to take notes when talking with employers. If you need assistance writing a resume or want to get yours checked over, the University Career Center has drop-in hours daily for students to have their resumes critiqued. We will also have pre-fair resume critiques on Monday, September 10 and Tuesday, September 11 from 2 – 5 pm.
  • Pick and choose: Of the companies and organizations attending, know which ones you are interested in (for a list of registered employers, updated regularly, click HERE).
  • Do your research: Do a little bit of online research regarding the company or organization so that you appear knowledgeable and thoroughly interested to the employers. Specifically take note of information that is not mentioned on the website so that you can ask questions, along with info that impressed you. Employers will be much more likely to remember someone who knows about their company and what they do.
  •  Prepare and practice your 20-second “elevator pitch”:  Think about and practice what you will say to a recruiter when you hand them your resume. This should include information such as your name, year in college (freshman, sophomore, etc.), achievements, skills, and special qualities that you possess. See the following videos to get an idea of what your pitch may look like. Click HERE.

DURING THE FAIR

  • Introduce yourself well: As they are nearly everywhere, first impressions are key at career fairs. Introduce yourself with a firm handshake and a friendly smile.
  • Dress professionally: Dressing professionally demonstrates your maturity, preparation, and commitment to your professional future. For further information on how to dress professionally and appropriately, check out our popular blog on what to wear.
  • Arrive early: Arrive early to prevent yourself from having to wait in long lines. Turn off your cell phone and double check your appearance before heading into the career fair.
  • Bring a portfolio case:  Some sort of portfolio carrying case can be useful for storing your resumes and additional paper for notes. DO NOT bring too many things to carry, since you will be shaking hands with employers.

AFTER THE FAIR

  • Take notes: Jot down information from conversations you had with specific employers, including contact information, job specifics, and anything else important that you may forget. It’s important to do this in a timely fashion following your departure from the fair, or you may start mixing up your conversations with employers.
  • Follow up with a thank-you note: Follow up with a thank you note, thanking the employer for speaking with you. Recap your interest in the company, and your skills and abilities that would make you a good fit for the company.
  • Follow up with a phone call: Another follow up option is a call to the company (or the recruiter if you have his or her specific contact information) regarding next-step procedures if this was not already explained to you. Be bold and ask for an interview if you want one!

For further information on how to prepare for a job fair, view the University Career Center’s online presentation, “How to Work a Job Fair”, or stop in and see us in Atkins 150 to get answers to any of your career-related questions.

Best of luck!

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