The career fair represents possibilities–all of the potential paths your future could hold laid out before you under one roof. You want to make a good first impression on prospective employers, but it can be overwhelming.
“Career fairs can be pretty nerve-wracking,” said Christina Hall, graduate career development advisor in the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Education. “The All-Majors Career Fair hosts close to 200 employers each day, so you want to walk into the fair with a strategy.”
Hall’s strategy can be boiled down to a simple, catchy rhyme, “What to wear, what to say, and what to put on your resume.” Whether your goal for the career fair is to network, get an idea of who is hiring, or get a job, Hall provides her advice so you can get the most out of the All-Majors Career Fair.
Before the Career Fair
Research, strategize, prioritize. Hall recommends you determine the top five employers you want to talk to and rank them in order of high priority to low priority. “Be strategic and rank the employers because it’s a big event, and you have a limited amount of time,” said Hall. “Pick your top five and make those your primary targets. If your top choice has a long line, hit up the other employers first and then go back and wait so you’re making the best use of your time.” The list of employers who are attending the career fair can be found here.
Prepare a “career fair-friendly” resume. “For a career fair, a one-page resume is ideal,” said Hall. “Bring a few more copies than you think you will need. We have employers who just show up on the day-of, so there may be someone unexpected there, or you might have some extra time to talk to an employer who you weren’t originally planning to meet.”
Day of the Career Fair
Follow the business professional dress code (but do wear comfortable shoes). According to Hall, the attire for the career fair is business professional. Business professional attire means pants (no jeans), closed-toe shoes, button-down shirts, and suits. “Sometimes, students think that they don’t want to be too dressed up,” said Hall. “In my opinion, nobody looks at you negatively for being too dressed up. The issue would always be not being dressed up enough. You want to look professional, but you’re also on your feet. I feel so bad for some of our students because by the end of the fair, I can tell their feet really hurt. Don’t wear heels if they’re not comfortable for you.”
Bring a small bag to carry your essentials. Backpacks are not allowed on the career fair floor. Hall recommends opting for a small bag packed with your portfolio, multiple copies of your resume, and water.
Arrive early. “Just like everybody else, the recruiters are more tired towards the end of the day,” said Hall. “If you’re there earlier, they are more energetic and responsive. Towards the end of the day, I don’t think it’s a waste of students’ time to go later on, but just know that you may not get the response that you would have gotten first thing in the morning.”
Approaching an Employer
Practice with employers who are not one of your top priorities. “If you get there, and you’re nervous, do a couple practice runs with employers that you are less intimated by so you can get the kinks out before you talk to that top company on your list,” said Hall. “Talk to an employer whose booth is a little bit slower. If you freak out, and you want a minute to practice with somebody, we will have staff available to give you that last-minute boost.”
Be friendly, confident, and demonstrate interest. “You want to try to be as friendly and positive as possible to make a good impression,” said Hall. “Recruiters are people too. They respond to somebody who is friendly and polite.” According to Hall, students who convey confidence and show that they have researched the company are more likely to stand out to an employer. “It makes the employer feel like you’re not just here to talk to everybody, and you really want to talk to them,” said Hall.
Introduce yourself with a 30-second past, present, and future elevator pitch. “Rehearse what you’re going to say because the more prepared you are, the easier it is to speak flawlessly and feel confident,” said Hall. “We call it an elevator pitch, and it’s essentially coming up with a 30-second commercial of yourself. Past, present, and future is a good way to go about it: ‘I’ve recently done this, I’m currently doing this, and I would like to do that in the future.’”
After the Career Fair
Get the recruiter’s business card for a follow-up message. Hall says that one mistake students often make is not following up with a recruiter after the career fair. “If you meet a recruiter, and you have a great conversation with them, try to see if you can get their specific contact information,” said Hall. “After the fair, you can follow up and thank them for talking to you. Send your resume again because it never hurts to send it one more time and add them on LinkedIn.”
The Fall 2022 All-Majors (In Person) Career Fair will be held Monday, Sept. 12 and Tuesday, Sept. 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Georgia Tech Campus Recreation Center. View the list of employers and get more career fair tips here.