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Six tips to help make a great impression at career fairs

Wednesday, August 29 2018 12:00am

Career & Student Success Center staff share their tips on how to prepare for upcoming career fairs.

By Meghan Morris

Every year, College of Business students have a chance to make a good impression with recruiters at career fairs. Whether it’s your senior year or you just arrived in Athens, these networking opportunities can benefit all business bobcats, but preparation is key.

Check out these six tips from the Career and Student Success Center team to ensure that you make the most of your career fair experiences: 

1. Research your high-priority employers

"Have a game plan prior to attending the event. Before arriving, research companies on Handshake, the new online tool where you can see which employers are attending the career fair, general company information, and job, and internship opportunities."

– Emily Monsted, operations manager, Career and Student Success Center

“Telling a recruiter that you already submitted an application for a position at their company starts you off right! It shows the employer that you’re really proactive and care about setting yourself up for success.”

– Grace Ede, senior assistant director, Career and Student Success Center

2. Dress in business professional attire

"Each employer may have a different preference when it comes to attire, but we want our students dressed as professionally as possible for the career fairs. Business-professional style can be achieved in several different ways. Men can wear a suit, but should at least wear dress slacks with a button-down shirt and a tie; women can wear a blouse and dress slacks if they prefer it over a dress. Students should also invest in the clothing items they can afford. It won’t hinder appearances if they don’t have the best items on the market. Resources such as OHIO's Career Closet, where students can rent clothes for interviews and other professional events, are also available."

– Chris Washko, assistant director, Career and Student Success Center

3. Bring interview materials

"Students should bring 15-20 copies of their latest resume, a padfolio and business cards if they can. Do not bring a backpack! A padfolio or sturdy folder makes sure students can still receive materials from recruiters, carry notes about companies, and come with a few questions prepared. You’ll want to know what that company is all about whether that’s the types of positions that they offer or the mission of the company.”

– Chris Washko, assistant director, Career and Student Success Center

4. Refine your elevator pitch

“An elevator pitch is crucial at career fairs since students only have a few minutes with each recruiter. It’s all about selling yourself in a short window. When you’re riding an elevator, you should be able to do that introduction with somebody and really highlight your experiences in a 30-second window. Elevator pitches involve two separate parts to really grab a recruiter’s attention. First, a student should start with their name, major, extracurriculars, and an interesting fact about their experience with work or academics. That last tidbit can be about studying abroad, an internship, cluster, or high school work experience. Anything that shows recruiters of a student’s accomplishments. Second, students should inquire more about the company's culture, the recruiter’s personal experiences there and specific job openings." 

– Chris Washko, assistant director, Career and Student Success Center

“If students have time upon entering the career fair, it’s also recommended that they visit some recruiters who have shorter lines. "It’s a great place to get those first jitters out and practice that elevator pitch so that you can get it honed and ready for when you talk to somebody who’s high on your list.”

– Grace Ede, senior assistant director, Career and Student Success Center

5. Use body language

“A decent handshake and confidence goes a long way. In short, your body language needs to give off positive vibes. Keep enough eye contact, have pleasant facial expressions, and use hand gestures if it shows your personality.”

– Grace Ede, senior assistant director, Career and Student Success Center

6. Remember to follow-up

"Making a good first impression might not matter if a recruiter goes home and forgets about a student. It’s really important to thank people for their time, even in a short email. "If you do follow-up, you want to remind the recruiter of who you are, what you talked about and where you met them. By following up with most employers they visited, students can build connections that help them later in their careers. A company may not have a job position that interests you at the time, but there could be one months down the road."

– Grace Ede, Senior Assistant Director, Career and Student Success Center

Learn more about the Career and Student Success Center.