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How to Get the Most Out of a Career Fair

Career fair

Plenty of people think career fairs are a thing of the past in the digital age. Don’t believe them. Career fairs can be a treasure chest of opportunity if you know how to work them. We decided to break it down into 4-areas:  Research, Planning, The Day Of and Follow-up.

Research the Companies That Will Attend

One of the best uses of your time before heading to a career fair is to learn about the companies that will be there. Even if you’re sure you don’t want to work for some of them, do your homework anyway. After all, you never know what opportunities might come from any potential employer. Make sure you know what the business does and whether they might have current or future openings that relate to your skill set.

Find out if you can pre-register for the career fair. If so, do so and have an updated resume prepared for submission. Make sure your resume is scannable so you don’t miss out on opportunities when the human resources people scan for specific skills. There are lots of online resources to help with this if you’re unsure.  Also remember some companies aren’t allowed to accept resumes at fairs and will ask you to apply online.

Planning for Career Fair Day

One of the best impressions you can make at a Career Fair is to plan in advance what you’re going to say. After all, these companies are talking to lots of people and you might only have 2-to-5 minutes to tell your story. Make it interesting.  Make it concise. Most important, be enthusiastic. Keep it focused on your professional abilities-no giggling. Think of key benefits you can offer the company.

Give some thought to what you’re going to wear. If you’re just out of school or returning to the job market, you might need to invest in professional clothes. It doesn’t have to be designer quality, but you should look sharp and professional – check out discount stores online that sell the extra inventory from pricier stores.

Put together a strategy. You might not be able to touch all of the companies at the event so decide which ones are a priority. Are there key companies you need to see? Some strategists recommend talking with the most important companies first; but it might be better for you to “practice” on less important companies to you and then talk with the biggies. Either way, stay flexible because you might need to switch gears if lines are long. Finally, make a list of everything you need to do the day of the career fair.

The Day of the Fair

Work ahead if you can. Pull together multiple copies of your resume- at least 2 for each company at the fair. If you’re in a field like graphic design, consider bringing your portfolio to show prospective employers.

When you are in line waiting to talk with a company, listen to the people in front of you who are already talking with recruiters. You’ll get a better idea of actual questions. If a question catches you off guard, you’ve still got time to formulate an answer. It might also prompt questions you want to ask.

Finally, network with everyone at the fair. That includes company representatives and other job seekers. You never know when someone you meet will put in a good word for you later on. Leave your card with everyone you talk with and resumes with every company representative.


After the career fair is over, jot down notes (if you haven’t already) about conversations you had with different companies. Make sure you follow up on any promises you made like supplying more materials. Most important, make sure you send e-mails or thank you notes to company reps you spoke with thanking them for the opportunity. An extra dose of courtesy can go a long way when the job field is tight. Beyond that, make contact with the companies you’re interested in on a regular basis to keep your network active.

Corridor Career Fair

Now that you’re equipped with the planning and participation skills you need, make sure you put the Fall Corridor Career Fair on October 27 on your calendar. It’s from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Cedar Rapids Marriott. We’ll see you there!