How to Get the Most Out of the Career Fair

We get it — career fairs are daunting. Thinking intently about your career goals and striving to impress recruiters in what often feels like not enough time can be stressful for any student. But, it truly doesn’t have to be and it’s actually much simpler than you might think. There are two things that will turn you from an average candidate in line at the career fair into an exceptional one: preparation and confidence. When it comes to preparation, you probably know the drill. By the time students attend the career fair, they are most likely familiar with the different components of recruitment and professionalism in general. (If you’re not, don’t stress. Check out the checklist of Career Fair Prep essentials that we’ve compiled below to help you get familiar.) What we on the Wisconsin Alumni Student Board realized many students need, however, is a little extra boost of confidence that you can’t quite gain from a checklist on the internet. This is why, for years, we’ve been hosting a now award-winning event dedicated to helping students go into the career fair with the confidence and preparation they need to stand out. It’s called Career Fair Prep Night and this year, it’s taking place Monday, September 16th, 2019 from 6:00 to 7:30pm on the third floor of the Pyle Center

Thanks to our partners and sponsors at SuccessWorks at the College of Letters and Science, School of Human Ecology, Wisconsin School of Business, and College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, select employers will join WASB to host a series of workshops and provide one-on-one guidance on resumes, elevator pitches, and general questions about the career fair. 

Check out the list below to make sure you’re properly prepared with the essentials. Then, feel free to join us on Monday to interact face-to-face with recruiters and get feedback in an eased environment before tackling the career fair. A little prep can go a long way. We promise. 

Find the event details on Handshake or Facebook

Perfecting your Resume

Language — It is vital that you use metrics to quantify how much value you’ve added to projects and/or organizations. Use action words, not passive language. Be consistent and concise. 

Formatting — Your margins should be about 1 inch on all sides and your font should be easy to read (so, to be safe, go with as close to 12 point as possible). Each section should be organized in chronological order. Each line of text should go until the end of the page, so play around with wording if necessary. All verb tenses should match and, of course, all grammar should be correct. 

Personalization — Do not be afraid to add an interesting hobby or skill to let your personality shine through. Keep it professional, but still “you.” 

Crafting your Elevator Pitch 

Content — In 1-2 minutes, you should clearly answer these questions: 

  1. Who are you? (Quite literally, introduce yourself.)

  2. What do you do? (This could mean your career, or, as a student, something along the lines of your major, your involvement, or simply what excites you.) 

  3. What do you want from a job or internship? (Be honest and clear.) 

  4. What next?  (Always finish with a call to action; for example, “Who should I contact about next steps?”) 

Delivery —  Always make eye contact, finish with a firm handshake, and, most of all, display confidence. 

Business Professional Etiquette

Attire — Dress in business professional attire, which people tend to forget means no denim. Wear dress shoes. Don’t underestimate the value of the concept, “look good, feel good!” 

Attitude — Don’t be afraid to be personal, but don’t forget to be professional and polite (i.e., say “please” and “thank you,” shake hands, make eye contact, be respectful of time, etc. — that’s just life stuff). And, yep, you guessed it, be confident. You undoubtedly have a lot to offer employers, so if you come prepared and let your individuality shine, you’ll stand out. 

Maneuvering the Fair — Make your way around with purpose. Look up the companies in advance and decide who you want to meet with; prepare for those specific conversations.