Attending a college career fair is your first opportunity to introduce yourself and make a positive impression. However, it’s also an intimidating event that could leave you feeling uncomfortable and lost if you’re not properly prepared.
If you have difficulty putting yourself out there or talking to strangers, preparation is the key to a successful college career fair. With a little practice and preparation, you will learn how to introduce yourself in a stress-free and professional way.
1. Get Ready
Just because you’re a college student doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare for a career fair. Potential employers will want to see your expertise. Write or upgrade your CV or resume and print out a few copies to give recruiters.
Create a business card with your contact information, if you have the opportunity.
If you have a list of all participating companies, choose the ones you’d like to work with and do your research. You want to make a great impression, right? Learning about each company will increase your chances of connecting with recruiters and introducing yourself in a more confident way.
2. Beat Your Shyness
Whether you’re an introvert or just a shy person, it’s important to deal with your shyness before you head to your college career fair. Rehearse in front of the mirror or ask your friend to help you.
If you’re afraid to go to a career fair alone, ask a family member or a friend to join you.
3. Know What to Say
While you can’t know what you’re going to talk about with potential employers, preparing a few questions beforehand will make the situation a lot more comfortable. Unfortunately, many college students don’t take career fairs seriously.
That’s the major reason for frequent rejections. Knowing what to say to recruiters will also reduce your stress levels and increase your confidence. Here are a few questions you can ask your potential employer after you introduce yourself:
What do you think about your company’s development?
Let them give their opinion and provide your own opinion – short yet meaningful – based on the facts you learned online. You can even mention a few ideas you have that could improve the company’s development.
This may sound scary, but it’s a surefire way to show an employer that you’re truly interested in contributing to the company’s success.
When expressing your opinion, ensure it doesn’t sound like overly approving and don’t be afraid to express the negative aspects of the company. Honesty is the major factor here.
What’s the biggest challenge of the job?
This question is more important for you than it is to an employer. This will help you to find out if you’re ready to tackle this position.
For instance, a recruiter might say that a job requires being well-conditioned in highly stressful situations. If you have difficulty coping with stress, this job isn’t for you.
What are the skills you’re looking for in a potential employee?
As a college student, you may not have a big set of skills and experience, but you can mention that you have great communication skills, or you can create blogs, or find new customers.
It’s up to you. Check out the job’s description online and listen to an employer to find out what you should improve.
If you’re highly interested in working for them, you can say something like, “Unfortunately, I didn’t have an opportunity to learn certain skills so far, but I’m ready to work hard to enhance my knowledge.”
What’s the company culture like?
Unless you’re an easy-going person, discussing company culture with a potential employer is critical. If the culture sounds too toxic or too competitive, you should think twice about the position.
If the employer struggles to answer your question, this is a red flag.
Could you please give me your business card?
You’ll need contact information to be able to call or email an employer if you’re interested in the position.
It’s simple, but it can be a big help later on down the road.
4. Keep it Short and Formal
You’re not alone in this career fair so don’t hog a recruiter’s time with questions about paycheck, vacations, or days off. You can ask these questions during a job interview, but not during a career fair.
When talking to a recruiter, address them as Ms. or Mr., unless you’re told to address them otherwise. Show respect and listen to them without disturbing the conversation.
Avoid using slang and curses and don’t talk too much. It’s also critical to pay attention to the way you speak. You should learn to speak slowly and pause each time you see that a recruiter wants to say something.
5. Show Respect
Unfortunately, some recruiters treat college students impolitely. It might be because they’re already experts in their fields or because they’re older and thus smarter than you.
Don’t respond with negativity. Show respect, say “thank you,” and look for another recruiter.
Showing respect when others don’t respect you is a skill that will truly make you stand out from the crowd and might even change the way a recruiter treats you.
6. Hand Your CV/Resume to the Recruiter
Draw the attention of your potential employer by giving them your CV or resume. Give them a few seconds to check it out and be ready to answer some additional questions.
If your CV doesn’t include any past work experience, it should have your set of skills and your personal traits.
7. Send a Thank You Note After the Career Fair
Within one to two days after the event, take your time to write and send a thank you note – regardless of whether or not you’re going to work for their company.
Be grateful for their time and the things they shared with you. If you’re looking to work for the company, mention why you’re the best candidate for this position. Be creative and avoid grammar mistakes in your emails.
Even though the majority of college students have already done certain jobs, some of them have no idea what it’s like to work in a large company. If you’ve been rejected, don’t take it personally and keep mastering new skills while improving old ones.