The Career Showcase Preparation Guide

Eller PDC Coach's Corner

By Erica Alitiem, Career Coach

The 2014 Career Showcase is just around the corner (Thursday, Feb. 20). Here are some tips to help you prepare:


Preparation is the key –

Consider the Career Showcase as a mini-interview. Do not just show up, this is a competitive process! Whatever you would do to prepare for an interview is very much the same for a job fair. This is your face time with recruiters, the opportunity to make a positive impression and find out useful company information. Most employer representatives have some say in the hiring process. Ask for an interview, not the job.

Have a plan!

Define your purpose for attending the career fair. Are you a freshman just wanting to familiarize yourself with how a fair works? Are you looking for a summer internship or a full time position? Use your time efficiently and wisely by preparing a list of employers you would be interested in visiting, the list of attending employers is on the Eller website. From there, list questions for employers from company website research while thinking about how your education or experience relates to the organization needs. Find out what the company does, positions they are hiring for, and what qualifications or skills are important for that particular position.

Resume and Intro Review

Have your resume reviewed even if you think it’s great. A career coach can assist you in making sure it is representative of you and help to tailor it to your career goals. The resume should be clean, organized, targeted, and on premium paper to help stand out. Have plenty of copies, best to have too many than not enough. Talk about transferrable skills and accomplishments rather than job duties. Prepare and prepare your 30 second introduction over and over. This is your first impression and beginning step in any networking scenario.

What to wear and what to do?

It goes without saying but dress professional, no matter what. Err on the side of being over-dressed. Outward appearance is part of the impression you make on people. Maintain good eye contact and present a firm handshake. Put a smile on your face every table visit and confidently approach an employer (both of these can be a fake it until you make it). Avoid visiting career booths with friends or talking/texting on your phone. Take the opportunity while waiting to speak to an employer and listen in as to what questions are being asked so that you’re prepared. Recruiters typically have a similar script prepared for every candidate who approached their table.

Extra tips:

  • Consider ordering business cards, it’s a great way to swap business cards with a recruiter especially if the company does not accept resumes at the career fair. Either way, obtain recruiter contact info.
  • Good idea to attend the career fair in the beginning if you are able. For one, it’s not as crowded and you can generate more face time and visit more companies but towards the end, recruiters are often rushed or pre-occupied in packing their things up and making it their flight, if applicable.
  • Don’t hit your top employers first. Practice. Try establishing your groove with employers that you might be as interested in.
  • Be open-minded. Don’t be overly focused on the well-known company brands. Longer lines typically mean more competitive hiring processes. A less well known, smaller, or less glamorous companies offer great opportunities that may be more attainable, lucrative and offer a wealth of experience.
  • Ask for the interview! If you have genuine interest in an employer, conducted research, and maybe even applied on line, what’s the worst that could happen? Even if schedules are closed and the employer is interviewing the next day, recruiters typically have the flexibility to add candidates to their schedule.
  • Meet as many people as possible. This is a great opportunity to practice your networking. This is not the only event going on; info sessions and club participation.

After a career fair:

Follow up and send a thank you note. Connect with employer contacts on LinkedIn or with alumni/connections to the company. Ask for information interviews. The more a company sees you, the more likely you will receive an interview, now or in the future. Believe it or not, many companies track student attendance in events.