How To Work a Job Fair and Other Networking Events
There are things you should definitely do to make the job fair or employer networking event work for you. Employers attend career events for several reasons: to increase awareness of their organization; to provide career information; to increase their applicant pool; and to locate good candidates for internships and jobs they are trying to fill now or in the future. In today's tough economic times, networking is more important than ever before, so be sure to follow these tips on how to prepare and to present yourself to have a more successful career event experience.
- Research the employers scheduled to attend the event at www.uncw.edu/career in in your SeaWork account at www.myseawork.com. Know enough about these employers to tell them why you are interested and to connect your background to their needs.
- Prepare your resume that presents your background and interests clearly and concisely.
- Prepare your 30-second "elevator pitch" (your sales pitch) to introduce yourself and to briefly relate your background to what you know about the employer's needs. Practice this pitch!
- When approaching an employer you know little about, ask several probing questions that will obtain the information needed to connect your background, interests and goals.
- Create your own business card and bring them to the fair to hand out to employers. Use these at employer networking events rather than a resume. Check out our business card template!
- Prepare questions you want employers to answer, such as: What types of employment or internship opportunities does your organization represent? Tell me more about your organization. What characteristics do you look for in applicants? How does your organization provide supervision and training? What is your application process for new college graduates? May I leave you a copy of my resume? Here is my business card; may I have one of your cards to follow-up with you?
- While at the fair, network with as many employers as possible and collect business cards. Be sure to smile!
- Dress and act professionally and treat the career event like a real interview. Demonstrate confidence, interest and enthusiasm and have good eye contact and a firm handshake. Ask questions that demonstrate your knowledge of their organization or industry, and that are appropriate (e.g., avoid initial questions about salary, benefits, vacation, sick leave policy, etc.)
Immediately after the career event, follow-up with a handwritten thank-you note, or with a phone call / email to the people with whom you spoke. Following up in a timely manner shows your professionalism and makes a positive impression. As stated earlier, treat the career event like an interview and make a great first impression.