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How to Adequately Prepare for Career Expos

By: Anna Salas

Career fairs can be quite intimidating and anxiety-provoking for most students – including myself! The thought of walking up to a recruiter and figuring out a way to briefly, but thoroughly, explain your interest in their company and why you would be a good fit can evoke a great deal of stress in most people. Thankfully, career experts have shared suggestions and tips to help us prepare before the event so that once the big moment arrives, we are prepared and already know what we are going to say and how we are going to act. Below are a few tips to assist you in impressing employment recruiters, and hopefully landing that dream job or internship!

  • Do Your Pre-fair Research: Prior to attending the fair, research the companies and organizations that you know will be attending and that you are interested in. This way, you won’t be wandering aimlessly from booth to booth without knowing what line of work various companies specialize in. Additionally, when you speak with employers, you will be able to demonstrate your interest in and knowledge of the company, and you can ask any questions you may have.
    • Specifically, take note of the company’s products, their line of work, any positions they are actively recruiting for, their mission statement/objective, etc.
    • Click HERE to watch our CareerSpots video on “7 Tips for Researching Companies
  • Dress Professionally: The first thing the employer will notice when you approach them is how you are dressed. Dressing professionally shows that you are mature and understand professional etiquette and the world of work. For tips on how you should dress for a career fair, see our popular blog, “Professional Attire: What to Wear to the Fair.
  • Bring Copies of Your Resume AND Have It Critiqued Prior to the Fair: If you don’t bring copies of your resume, there is going to be little chance that employers will remember you, your qualifications, or why they should hire you.  Ensure that you bring enough copies of your resume, and that your resume has been critiqued by a career advisor at the UNCC University Career Center (UCC). The UCC offers drop-in hours daily and prior to the fair, extended drop-in hours are available two days prior to the fair. See the UCC Calendar of Events for specific dates and times.
    • You may wish to bring along a padfolio (I personally like the clipboard padfolios), which allows you to have a hard surface to take notes on, and also functions as a means of securing copies of your resume)
  • Don’t Forget About Your Non-verbal Cues: Sometimes when we are nervous and heavily focused on what we are communicating verbally, we forget about what we are conveying non-verbally through our body language and facial expressions.  When greeting recruiters, remember to
    • Shake hands with the recruiter using a firm, dry (not sweaty!) handshake
    • Stand up straight and try to avoid fidgeting with your pen, notebook, etc. while speaking with the recruiter
    • Greet the recruiter with a smile and continue to smile and demonstrate your enthusiasm for throughout the time you spend speaking with the recruiter
    • Maintain eye contact while talking with the employer. I’m not saying you have to stare at the employer the whole time you are speaking with them, but specifically when they are asking you a question or you are providing a response, try to maintain eye contact. While you are crafting a response, it is perfectly fine to look away.
  • Prepare and practice your 20-second “Elevator Pitch”: Because there may be many students wanting to talk to a specific recruiter at a career fair, it is wise to come up with a 20-30 second introduction that you can succinctly say to employers when handing them your resume. The pertinent information that you should be relaying to the recruiter in your “elevator pitch” can be boiled down to the following:
  1. Who you are
  2. Why you’re interested
  3. Why you’re qualified

If the recruiter has the time to do so, ask questions about the company to further show your interest and enthusiasm. Example questions could be, “Where do you see me with the company?” or “What’s the company’s vision?” DO NOT ask any questions about salary or vacation time. For more information on how to perfect you Elevator Pitch, click HERE to watch our CareerSpots video on “The Elevator Pitch.”

The Spring Career Expo 2013 is coming up on Friday, April 5th, 2013, and will be held from 10am-3pm. Be sure to arrive EARLY, as some recruiters will leave after their goals have been met. The Career Expo is ONLY for UNC Charlotte students and alumni and is open to students and alumni from all majors. Some employers may interview candidates following the job fair, at their discretion. For a regularly updated list of registered employers, click HERE. Don’t miss this great opportunity to speak with employers and graduate schools seeking full-time employees, interns, and graduate students!


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