Sep 12, 2023

How to Prepare for a Career Fair

A woman shaking another's persons hand at a career fair.

Fall is approaching, which means career fair season is back! If you’re looking for a new position or industry connections, attending a career fair can bring you face-to-face with company representatives from many organizations. Career fairs, or job expos, can be found at local universities, community centers, or by a quick Google search.  These events are a great opportunity to not only connect with company recruiters and learn more about local organizations but also to grow your professional network and foster your networking skills.

However, attending a job fair can be overwhelming—from talking to new people to wanting to find the right job for the next step in your career. Taking the time to prepare for a career fair will help you feel more confident, organized, and in control on the event day. Follow these preparation tips to ensure you have a successful networking experience at your upcoming career fair!

Update your Resume and LinkedIn

Your resume quickly communicates your experience and skills to company representatives and recruiters at career fairs. Updating your resume with your latest job experiences, duties, and skills will help sell your experience further. You will want to read through your resume ahead of time. Check that you have no spelling errors to achieve a more professional impression. While updating your resume, be sure to reflect these changes on your LinkedIn too!

LinkedIn is a popular professional networking platform that recruiters utilize to connect with you online. Having a professional digital presence is important to communicate who you are and why a recruiter may want to hire you. Update your experiences and positions, skills, headshot, and your profile headline to showcase who you are and what you do in a direct and professional way. If you’ve received any professional certifications, highlight them on your resume and LinkedIn, as they help you stand out amongst other candidates. 

Research Your Top Companies

Showing up to a career fair and knowing what companies you are interested in will help you narrow your focus and make the most of your time at the event. Research the companies you’re most interested in ahead of time to learn what they do and what positions they could be looking for. Going into the career fair with a game plan and strategy of who you want to talk to will lead to a more productive and beneficial experience for you. Check to see if the company you’re interested in has open positions that fit your skillset and their company culture. Finally, rank your top five companies that will attend the career fair before you go—then you can have an action plan of which interactions to prioritize based on your research!

Practice Your Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch, or elevator speech, is a 30- to 60-second introduction describing who you are and what you do. In professional networking settings, elevator pitches help get a quick and efficient understanding of people and make the most of your connections. In your elevator pitch, it’s imperative to include the most important things about you first. This may be your name, major/degree, skills, or a specific past experience or position. Don’t include too many details, but rather think of it as a highlight reel of who you are and what you could offer a company. Making connections with elevator speeches opens the door to more productive conversations. Overall, your elevator pitch should be a quick showcase of you being your best advocate—no one can communicate who you are as well as you can!

Ask Questions about the Company

Prepare a few engaging and intentional questions for recruiters about the company or specific position you are interested in. This can help you stand apart from other candidates and whether you’d be the right fit for their company. Some questions to consider are:

  • “What is something you like about working for this company?”
  • “If I were in this position, what kind of projects would I be working on?”
  • “If I were to be in this position, what would my day-to-day tasks look like?”
  • “What are measures of success for someone in this position?”

Ask questions that give you insight into the company and its culture, in addition to asking job-specific questions to understand what you’d be doing day-to-day. These are all engaging and thoughtful questions that allow you to get to know the company a little more and show you did your research.

Practice Answering Interview Questions

Additionally, you should research popular interview questions. Prepare answers for each question, so when you’re on the spot you have a confident and concise answer for recruiters. Practicing ahead of time will help you feel more at-ease on the day of the career fair because you’ll be more confident in your answers. When speaking with recruiters, speak confidently and directly, and don’t forget to maintain eye contact.

Prepare Attire

When attending a career fair, it’s important to dress business casual or business professional. A good rule of thumb is to dress for the type of job you’re aiming to get. More conservative attire shows recruiters your professional side and makes a better first impression.

Strategize a Follow-up Plan

After the career fair ends, be sure to contact the people/companies you spoke with. Whether this be through email or LinkedIn, making sure to thank them and/or follow up with them will help you stand out and hopefully land an interview. Reiterate who you are, and where you met them. Be sure to thank them for their time and insight into the company you’re interested in, and express your interest in the company or position.

Successfully Prepare for your Career Fair!

Attending a career fair can be intimidating, but taking time to prepare for it will help you feel more confident. You’ll know your answers to questions they may ask, be able to present yourself confidently and professionally, and make a great impression on the recruiter. Prepare thoroughly for the career fair so you can get the most out of it!

LCS representatives will be attending several career fairs around the Cincinnati area this fall! Stop by our booth and introduce yourself—we’d love to meet you!

Connect with LCS representatives at your Fall Career Fair:

  • September 13 – University of Cincinnati
  • September 18 – University of Dayton
  • September 27 – Miami University
  • September 27 – Northern Kentucky University
  • October 3 – Bowling Green State University