How to stand out at a Career Fair

Career fairs can be intimidating — just as the room is filled with potential opportunities; it is also filled with potential competition. Meeting recruiters and other applicants in the job force face to face can help you make a personal connection impossible to create over email or LinkedIn. It’s important to take advantage of this chance to showcase yourself as a future employee. Check out these tips to be sure you stand out from the pack and leave a lasting impression on the people you meet.

Come prepared

A good employee is always ready for a new task, so being prepared for chats at a career fair can make you seem like a great potential candidate. Preregister online, check over and upload your resume to any possible database, have an idea of what kinds of jobs you want and what industry you are interested in. Ideally, you have a goal for the day and can plan and prioritize which employers you most want to connect with.

Do your research

Employers can tell if you haven’t taken the time to learn about the companies and opportunities at career fairs ahead of time. To really set yourself apart, learn some details about the organizations like the mission, top competitors, clients and types of positions they will be hiring for. You can surprise them with your knowledge and impress them with your initiative.

Circulate

While it’s a good idea to have a few companies earmarked, mingle and talk with as many people as you can. Connect with recruiters and other job seekers alike. Ask what they are looking for and what their impressions of various companies have been so far. Collect as many business cards and new connections as possible — you never know who can provide a reference for a future application.

Present yourself well

Dress professionally, as you would for an interview. Your attire and body language say a lot about you so don’t forget to consider this while you prepare. Have an ample supply of résumés, firm handshakes and confidence. It’s important to have your elevator pitch ready and practiced. This is the quick summary introducing and selling you based on experiences, past successes, skills and interests.

Ask thoughtful questions

It’s a good idea to avoid asking things you can find the answers to online — come ready with relevant questions that show your interest and research. Consider asking about the company’s culture, what type of personality they are looking to hire and what day-to-day office life is like.

Follow up

Ask for business cards, LinkedIn profiles and how to proceed with the job application. Personal touches go a long way — follow up by email or with a handwritten thank-you note. By continuing communication, you know they will have to think about you after the fair. This gives you the chance to reiterate your interest in their company and show why you are a good candidate for employment.