General Tips for Attending Career Fairs

Posted on Aug 9, 2012

Link to Original Article: http://chd.umf.maine.edu/career/workingthejobfair.php

► After perusing the roster of recruiters attending the UMF Summer Employment Fair, the UMF Career Fair: Education and Liberal Arts, or the University of Maine Career Fair, identify your “hit list” in advance of the fair and start by speaking with the recruiters from your bottom-choice business, school, or organization. In essence, you’ll be warming up on a recruiter of lesser importance to you. By the time you speak with the recruiter from your top-choice business, school, or organization, you’ll be at your peak and comfortable. However, plan your time wisely — if you wait too long to catch up with recruiters representing your first-choice business, school, or organization, they may be packing up to beat traffic on a long drive home. Some recruiters who have traveled from a distance may decide to pack up 30 minutes before the close of the fair.


► Obviously, bring resumes. For more on how to use your resume before and at a job fair, see “Using Your Resume Before and At a Job Fair” in the drop-down menu above.


► Bring a datebook/calendar planner to the job fair. An interested recruiter may want to schedule an interview/follow-up meeting with you after speaking with you at a job fair. If he/she proposes a date and time or asks you what days/times you are available and you cannot answer definitively, then the recruiter may wonder if a) you aren’t really interested in the job or b) you have poor time management skills, since you cannot indicate when you are available. Bringing a datebook/calendar planner to a job fair will allow you to quickly reference your schedule and definitively indicate when you are available. Try to avoid giving an answer that isn’t really an answer, saying, for instance, “Um, I’m not sure. I have to check with my professor to see if we have a test that day. Can I get back to you?” You are encouraged to accommodate the recruiter’s scheduling desires and then make arrangements with professors, work-study supervisors, employers, etc. accordingly.


► Engage and Process: You are encouraged to find a relatively quiet corner to gather your thoughts after each encounter with a recruiter. Think about how the encounter went and the quality of your answers. Consider what you learned from your “performance” with a recruiter and how you can improve moving forward to your next encounter with a different recruiter. If you are unsatisfied with your performance because you neglected to give some important information, don’t hesitate to revisit the recruiter and – after reintroducing yourself – clarify the information. If you can manage it with some grace, the recruiter will think you are conscientious and have good communication skills.


► Working a job fair is like an endurance athletic event; it requires stamina for a sustained period, up to three hours. So, make sure you’re well rested, fed, and hydrated before the fair.


► Since recruiters may want to interview you on the spot for a job, review the interviewing strategies pieces on the Interviewing Toolbox before attending a job fair.


► Don’t hesitate to catch up with a UMF career counselor at the fair if you want some help in processing on your interactions with recruiters.


► Avoid inquiring about salary at this point in the job application process.


► Make sure you follow-up with a recruiter according to his/her preferences. Try to conclude your encounters with recruiters by asking about the next step. Perhaps you could ask, “What’s the best way for us to stay in touch about the status of my application?” or “When do you foresee interviewing candidates?” Asking these questions should elicit critical information about a general timeline or how the recruiter prefers to communicate: by phone or e-mail. And, if you learn the recruiter is accustomed to using e-mail, you can more easily send him/her a thank-you message immediately after the fair. 

Learn more about how to write a thank-you note