How to make a great first impression at a career fair

How to make a great impression at a career fair

When it comes to career fairs, most of us know how intimidating they can be. There are hundreds of other applicants waiting in the same long lines you are just to get a few moments of shine with a recruiter. Feeling like you’re hardly being noticed is one of the many things that can make you feel discouraged. While making a good impression can seem impossible at a crowded career fair, following these simple tips will help you make a great first impression with potential employers, so they’ll remember you.

Dress to impress

Your appearance is the true first impression you’ll leave with recruiters at a career fair. What you wear should be a mirror image of you as a working professional. It should show that you take the active job search seriously and understand the work environment of the industry you may work in.

Business casual can mean many different things nowadays, but for a career fair, it is always better to dress more professionally than to be too casual. A full suit is fine, but most employers do not expect it. Showing up in dress pants, a button-down shirt, blouse or sweater is 100% appropriate as well. A nice outfit shows that you’ve made extended efforts to look professional and make a good impression. Be sure to avoid clothing that is too tight as well as very bright colors with distracting designs.

Do some research and customize

Being prepared with knowledge about the companies you are talking to can be priceless. Do some research about the companies that are attending the career fair and make a prioritized list of those you want to target. Use the information you gather about certain companies to tailor your resume to accommodate your previous experiences to their open positions. Show your knowledge to the recruiter you speak with by sharing what you like about the company and how your skills could be an asset. The worst question you could ask a recruiter is, “What does your company do?”

Looking for a job? Come to Davenport University’s Annual Career Fair on 2/20/2020! More information >

Have your elevator pitch ready

Since you do not get unlimited time with each employer, you should have a 90 to 120-second pitch memorized, so you can highlight your best skills and experience quickly.  As you’re handing over your resume or business card, introduce yourself and “pitch” the recruiter on what you have to offer the pitch should include some of your key attributes and why you would be a great fit for the employer. A well-prepared pitch can also include related work experience, education history and the types of positions that you’re looking for. Once you’ve crafted your pitch, rehearse until it becomes second nature and get ready to impress.

Follow up with each employer you spoke with

After introducing yourself, giving your pitch and talking with an employer, ask for a business card or contact information from the recruiter. If they provide information, send them a follow up email to reintroduce yourself, thank them for your time and express your interest in their open positions. Since recruiters meet tons of students at career fairs, reintroducing yourself gives them a reminder of who you are and that you are genuinely interested in working with them. Following up is a key component of job search success can help you stand out from the crowd.

Not sure where to start? Check out The Perfect Template to Write a Thank You Email After an Interview (Plus, Samples!) from The Muse.

Now what?

Now that you’ve read through our top tips for making a great impression at a career fair, it’s time to take action. Plan out what you’re going to wear, do your research, customize your resumes, craft your elevator pitch and prepare a thank you email template for yourself. Once you do these things, you should feel confident and prepared to make a great impression at your next career fair.


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