What is a Job Fair?
A job fair, also known as a career fair, meet & greet, or recruitment fair, is a resource for candidates to find out about potential employers. They are typically organized in a large hall where employers will set up booths with members from their human resources (HR) team along with new employees, to tell those attending about their company, and jobs and internships they have available.
Why Attend a Job Fair?
The main reason: research. Asking representatives for details of a profession or a certain company will allow you to get a bigger picture of what it is like to work in that area, allowing you to make an informed choice about your career path.
A career fair is also useful for networking with employer representatives. When you do apply to a particular employer, it can be a great advantage to know someone there who can help guide you through the application process.
How to find a Job Fair?
Our Career Development department hosts on-campus career events and supports other job fairs throughout the year. You can check out those sponsored events here. For more options, you can check out MN CareerForce’s event page to learn about job fairs across the state or check out Eventbrite, or USAjobs for federal government careers, to learn about job fairs across the nation.
Preparing for a Job Fair
1. Establish Your Goal & Questions
Wherever you are in your career, job fairs are a good way to research and build a professional network. Establishing a goal and preparing a few questions in advance can help you feel more confident about what you will achieve by attending. Depending on your year, typical goals may include:
1st year undergrad: Discover what different types of organizations exist. Create a list of questions that will help you learn about how the employer got to their job and the joys / challenges that come with work in their industry.
- What experiences prepared you for your current job?
- What are your favorite and least favorite parts of your job?
- How does your organization support staff in professional development?
- Could I stay in touch with you by connecting via PeopleGrove or LinkedIn?
2nd and 3rd year undergrad: Engage with the employer to learn about internship and summer job opportunities that will allow you to explore a career path that you find interesting and/or that meets the requirements for your major.
- Are you actively hiring for any internships or summer jobs?
- In a typical day, what would I do in [open role]?
- Who can I follow up with about [open role]?
- Working with a diverse group of people is really important to me. How does your organization support different identities?
4th year undergrad & CFA & Grad students: Prepare to emerge in your career field of interest by asking about full-time job opportunities and assessing the organization’s fit with your work values.
- What full-time opportunities is your organization currently seeking to fill?
- What does the hiring process for [open role] look like?
- How would you describe the culture of your organization?
- What would be a great next step for me to take to further explore opportunities with your organization?
For more example questions, check out The Muse’s 7 Kinds of Questions to Ask at a Career Fair to Make a Great Impression or the KatieCareer Guide to Career Chats.
2. Plan Your Elevator Pitch
When you first meet a recruiter or employer, it is important to make a good first impression. It’s helpful to feel comfortable talking about yourself and your experiences. One way you can do this is by preparing an elevator pitch – a quick introduction that you can give to someone in the amount of time you would spend on an elevator with them (about 30 seconds). Try the format outlined in the image on the left!
Hello, my name is Lucy. I am a freshman at St. Kate’s and anticipate majoring in Sociology. I have two summers of experience with babysitting and lifeguarding and am excited to learn about new job opportunities related to Social Science. I’ve been really enjoying my Statistical Analysis course and am curious, what kind of research or data analysis is involved in your organization’s work?
Hello, my name is Mai. I am a junior at St. Kate’s, majoring in Marketing and Digital Strategy. I have three summers of experience in retail customer service and two years of part-time, on-campus experience with managing social media for our Career Development department. I am skilled in creating Mailchimp e-newsletters, Instagram content, and Canva graphics. I am searching for a Marketing internship, can you tell me about any opportunities available with your organization?
Hello, my name is Ahmed. This Spring, I will graduate from St. Kate’s with my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. I will take the NCLEX-RN licensure exam in July and anticipate becoming an RN by August. I have two summers of experience in healthcare and over 600 hours of clinical experience. I am also certified in Basic Life Support, First Aid, and CPR. I am skilled in de-escalation, adaptable problem-solving, and quality patient care. I specialized in trauma centers in clinicals and so am curious, can you tell me about any nurse opportunities you have in that area?
3. Research Employers
Review and research employers to identify organizations of interest to you.
- Use websites to learn what the company does, its mission, and other important information
- Take notes about the organizations and take them to the fair to review before you approach a representative
Know what you want to communicate to an employer in just a couple minutes.
4. Build Your Resume
While you can use our Resume page for more information on building a resume, here are a few things you should consider when building a resume for a job fair:
- Keep the formatting simple: Try to keep your resume to 1 page (10-12 point font), and ensure it is easy to skim.
- Put the most relevant experiences at the top of your resume: This ensures that it wont be missed by employers who review your materials.
- Include details: Make sure that you describe your experiences in a way that highlights your unique contributions, and the skills you gained in the position.
What to Wear & What To Bring
While different industries will have different expectations for workplace attire, it is generally recommended to stay within these options:
- Dress pants or skirts
- Professional dresses
- Professional shirts and sweaters (button up shirts, blouses, etc.)
- Nice shoes or loafers
- Neckties usually optional
What to Bring:
- Bag, Briefcase, or Folder. Make your life easier, and maintain your professional look by using something to carry your materials in.
- Pen & Paper. Jot down things you want to remember for when you follow up with potential employers.
- Resume Copies. Bring the amount equal to the employers you’re interested in, and then some more!
Talking with Employers
Approach Employers With:
- A smile
- A positive attitude
- A firm handshake
- An elevator speech
- The intention of being present
- Make eye contact when possible
- Don’t have a side conversation with your friends, focus on the employer
- Avoid distractions like checking your phone
While You’re Talking:
Always thank the employer before you leave their table or booth. Reiterate your interest and excitement about opportunities with the organization.
If applicable, ask for an interview during the fair.
Tell the recruiter you are very interested in their organization then share information you learned from your employer research Request a business card for follow-up purposes.
After the Fair
Review your day, note what you learned, and make a follow-up plan to:
- Send thank you notes to employers. Proofread cards or email messages carefully!
- Follow up by going to organizations’ websites and apply on-line using the information you gathered at the fair.
- Reassess what you need to do to continue your job search.
- Do the things the recruiter recommended you do.
- Set up your voicemail and ensure it makes a good impression.
- Send a thank you email. It should include:
- Reintroducing yourself.
- Thank them for their time and consideration.
- Share your interest in joining their team.
- End with another thank you.
- Provide them with contact information.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are networking for positions not posted at the fair, follow the above suggestions and after introducing yourself, tell the employer of your career areas of interest (i.e. communications, human resources, business analysis, project management) and ask the recruiter if they have:
- Suggestions of people to contact in the organization who may be hiring in your area of interest
- Tips for finding positions in those areas
- Other ideas that would help you gain visibility within their organization
If the employer is not collecting resumes and tells you to “apply online” ask for:
- Tips on how you can format your resume to scan well electronically
- Any other steps you can take to get an interview
- What skills they are looking for in good candidates