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how to behave at career fair?

lowendnewbielowendnewbie Registered User Posts: 264 Junior Member
edited February 2009 in Engineering Majors

I've been to about 5-6 career fairs now but haven't taken them too seriously except last year when i was desperate for a job. However, that didn't go to well neither.

I was wondering if anyone has experience on what I should talk to them about? I usually just ask them to tell me about thier company, tell them its interesting and hand in a resume. Then i never hear from them again.

Is it a good idea to have cover letters prepared for the specific companies? Also, I'm looking for work in the summer. We have 2 career fairs a year so I think this one is more geared towards the winter work term. Is it too early to start?

thanks for helping!
Post edited by lowendnewbie on

Replies to: how to behave at career fair?

  • aibarraibarr Registered User Posts: 4,249 Senior Member
    Honestly, you're doing what everybody does, and having done job fairs, you see a *lot* of half-lost, not-really-knowing-what-they're-doing potential recruits as a recruiter... so if you do what everyone does, how're you supposed to stand out among everyone else?

    Here's what impressed me.

    1) Professional dress.
    2) Professional-looking resumes, printed on formal resume paper. I would've been very impressed if I'd received a cover letter as well, though I never saw anybody do that. Maybe do that for a few targeted companies that you'd really love to work for.
    3) People who'd heard of our company, and who'd done research. Y'know how many times I heard, "Tell me about your company"? I'd recommend that you get a list of companies attending the job fair ahead of time and just do a quick google search of the different places. Know what the smaller companies all specialize in, and know a little more about the corporate structure of the larger companies. Confirm information that you already know. "XYZ Inc. is headquartered in Seattle, right?" (Ah, someone who's done a little homework.) "Are there positions available in your Tampa office?" (Why yes, there are.)
    4) Eye contact, and people who actually look like they're paying attention to me while I talk. I'm standing there for a full day, so I'm tired and cranky already, and I can get people who spend the majority of the time that I'm talking to them craning their necks to look around at other booths. That kind of makes me feel like you're making me waste my voice. Better yet, alternate paying attention and jotting down a few notes in a portfolio. Not only will the notes help you later, you'll get points for caring enough to write down what I say.
    5) Say something like, "I'm really interested in your company, and I'd love it if XYZ Inc. would consider me for employment in the future. Here's my resume. How would you recommend that I follow up later? May I contact you, or is there someone in HR that I should follow up with?" And THEN, follow up!!!

    I'm just at career fairs because I either went to that school or they like me because I know how to talk to college students and I look young enough that they think I can relate to college students. I HAVE NO HIRING CLOUT! Handing your resume to me is a good start, and they *might* take my advice when I say "Hey, so-and-so seemed like a candidate that really had it together, we might want to consider them," but usually, the resumes go into a stack and the HR folks sort through them and decide what to do with them. YOUR BEST BET is to try to get an HR or hiring contact from me while you're talking to me, and to later follow up with that contact... Address your cover letter to them, and say in your cover letter that you're going to be following up later because you'd like to discuss career opportunities with them. Then, actually follow up-- call the company, ask for that person. Talk with them personally.

    Career fairs are a good start, but you also need to step it up and show initiative if you're going to stand out. Behave professionally, be polite and friendly and attentive, and look at it like you're selling something (not used car sales... more like polished telemarketing sales).

    Also keep in mind that the economy is kind of unsteady right now. (For example, my bank failed last night. Go me!) Some companies may be there, but they might not be hiring, or their hiring may be way down. My company has put a freeze on hiring for the time being, and we're 400+ people and growing. Just because nothing pans out the first career fair around doesn't mean you shouldn't keep knocking on doors, and it doesn't mean you shouldn't keep following up with people. It might be a little tough right now, but if you persevere, you'll land something, by virtue of the fact that you actually persevered instead of throwing sheafs of your resume into a giant black hole and hoping someone picks it up.

    Good luck!
  • rheidzanrheidzan Registered User Posts: 401 Member
    Speaking of MY experience of recruiting, we usually go out and collect resumes just to be handed out to personnel/HR people. I totally have no idea what else they do w/ it other than contacting these students that we have an on-campus interviews.

    Honestly, most of my job offers or interview calls never came from a job fair, even when I went to the annual LA ASCE student night/job fair.
    Most of them came from school's career website, email from the department secretary or online job sites. This is also true for my sister.

    Then again, this may be because I never followed up after I handed out my resumes to the recruiters.

    I guess the best thing would be just to get their contact info and follow up.
  • gthopefulgthopeful Registered User Posts: 1,828 Senior Member
    Interesting info. I did suspect that going to at least my school's career fair would be a marginal use of my time because it wouldn't allow me enough time to distinguish myself because about 5000 students over 2 days converge on the top floor of our rec center over 2 days. This especially is considering a few times a year reps from the places I REALLY want to work will come on campus and give presentations to the IEEE.

    When I started applying for internships, I actually didn't use the career fair at all: I used their websites and the career office. We'll see how this pans out come December when hiring starts for the big companies.
  • lowendnewbielowendnewbie Registered User Posts: 264 Junior Member
    thanks for the responses.

    hmm so from what I'm getting from this is that the people i talk to don't have much hiring power so the most important thing is for me to get thier contact information or something from HR?

    But i'm guessing that recruiters can also put an X or something on your resume to show that they don't like you so your resume doesn't even get to HR.
  • aibarraibarr Registered User Posts: 4,249 Senior Member
    They *may* send someone from HR, so try to figure out who you're talking to.

    And more than just getting the contact information for HR people, you need to make a good impression as someone that's different from everyone else they're talking to. You need to show initiative and go beyond what everyone else is doing.

    Show that you're professional.
  • me_engme_eng Registered User Posts: 33 Junior Member
    Three things to say at a career fair

    I want the job
    I can do the job
    When do I start.
  • lowendnewbielowendnewbie Registered User Posts: 264 Junior Member
    so I've been thinking about this thread and I was wondering how would I start the conversation with the companies? Usually i just say 'tell me about your company' but this has never gone well as it shows i've not no research into the company.

    thanks for the responses. I'm sure they'll help lots of people here.
  • coolweathercoolweather Registered User Posts: 5,294 Senior Member
    I have never been to a career fair.

    Hiring managers don't have time to sit at career fairs. Only HR people do.

    dice.com and monsters.com always work for me.
  • lil_killer129lil_killer129 Registered User Posts: 4,706 Senior Member
    so I've been thinking about this thread and I was wondering how would I start the conversation with the companies? Usually i just say 'tell me about your company' but this has never gone well as it shows i've not no research into the company.

    thanks for the responses. I'm sure they'll help lots of people here.
    I get really nervous and usually sound like I don't know any english. But I usually just say my name, major, what position (summer internship) and what kind of stuff I'm interested in (that's related to the company). They all don't sound like they care anyway. I don't know how people prepare a 30 second speech for that. Mine was only 10 seconds. Maybe that's why I didn't get any calls yet. :(
  • aibarraibarr Registered User Posts: 4,249 Senior Member
    "Hi, (handshake), my name is ________, I'm a senior engineering major here, and I'm interested in working for your company."

    Proceed to ask questions.
    Maybe that's why I didn't get any calls yet.

    Do not go home and wait for them to come to you. Follow up.

    There's no "magic spiel" that you can give that's going to make them contact you, you'll need to follow up and show that you actually care about landing the job.
  • ken285ken285 Registered User Posts: 3,916 Senior Member
    One company I used to work for routinely sent the VP, an assistant director, and an entry-level engineer to my school's career fair. These WERE the ones who made the hiring decisions. This isn't common though, but it does happen (2 of them are alumni).
  • aibarraibarr Registered User Posts: 4,249 Senior Member
    One company I used to work for routinely sent the VP, an assistant director, and an entry-level engineer to my school's career fair. These WERE the ones who made the hiring decisions.

    I wish more companies would do this. That's a really good idea.
  • gatorjacketgatorjacket Registered User Posts: 39 Junior Member
    I have had different experiences with what has been said in this thread. At my school there are definitely people that you can talk to that will land you a job. I had 2 interviews the next day after career fair, and an interview is all you can really ask for. Also, many companies do send HR people.

    What you want to do is introduce yourself, name, major, year, objective, then spit out some tidbit about how you're really interested in the industry or the field or something. Like Lockheed Martin for example: "Hi I'm afkjlsjdf, a blank year blank major looking for blank. I'm really interested in working in the defense industry and I know that Lockheed Martin is a leader". Usually they will ask you if you have a copy of your resume and then they'll go over some key points with you. They're looking for interest in position, basic qualifications, and communication skills. Try to get yourself warmed up by talking to some companies you don't really care about working for first.

    I had moderate success my first career fair, had two interviews and landed one job offer. This was through the fall career fair, landing a summer internship. Go to both the fall and the spring career fairs. Some companies hire summer positions in the fall (GE, P&G for example), some hire in the spring (Siemens, Accenture for example). It's definitely beneficial to go to every career fair, because many companies send the same recruiter each year and they will remember you. Guy I talked to once last year asked me if he had met me before when I talked to him this year, crazy..

    I just went to my second career fair and it went much better, mainly because of the experience of the first. Good luck!
  • lowendnewbielowendnewbie Registered User Posts: 264 Junior Member
    so i finally went to a career fair.

    I got only a couple people's contact informations. The rest told me to just apply online when i asked them how to follow up. I've applied online so i'm just waiting to see what happens. :)
  • chuychuy Registered User Posts: 3,916 Senior Member
    Ask specific questions that show that you're familiar with their company and read their website. They love that.
This discussion has been closed.