The Career Fairs provide a great opportunity for you to learn about careers and to meet with employers who are interested in hiring college graduates. The initial contact you make at the career fair may lead to an interview later. Some employers will be looking to identify candidates to fill internship and co-op positions. Others will want candidates who are looking for full time positions.
So what can you do to stand out in the crowd of college job seekers? The next sections guide you through the steps you should take before, during and after the career fair.
Why should you attend a Career Fair?
- Speak with a company representative in person.
- Connect with organizations to learn about specific careers and pass on your resume for consideration for a position.
- Collect information about other departments and divisions within the organization.
What should you do before the Career Fair?
Activate your HIREsooner Account with Career Services - HIREsooner is an employer-student database that allows students to:
- Gain access to the On-Campus Interview Program - over 300 employers interview during the fall and spring semesters. Many of the employers attending the career fair may have scheduled on-campus interview dates for later in the year.
- Have your resume appear in the OU Online Resume Books online before employers arrive or after they leave the career fair.
Develop a Resume
- Check Career Services' Calendar of Events and plan to attend one of the resume writing workshops.
- Check out the Resume Writing Section of our Web page for resume writing tips and sample resumes.
- Customize your resume for your targeted employers (objectives, contents, etc.) You may need to develop more than one resume.
- Have your resume critiqued during Career Services' scheduled Walk-in times: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 1:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
- Have your resume printed on white or off-white resume paper.
- Have enough copies of your resume printed to give to the organizations you are targeting, plus 5-10 more. It is better to have extras than to run out.
Make sure you have professional attire
- Make sure you have professional clothes to wear.
- For more information about what to wear to a Career Fair check out the Professional Dress section of our Web page.
- Attend Career Services' Professional Dress presentations.
Plan to bring the following items to the career fair
- Portfolio/folder to hold your resumes and notes.
- Copies of your resume on resume paper.
- Your "Top Ten" list of companies.
- Pen and paper for taking notes.
Leave the following items at home
- Backpacks - use a simple, professional portfolio/folder instead.
- Class books and notes.
Employers are most interested in candidates who know who they are and what they want. The whatever-you-have-I'll-do-anything approach is not effective.
- Do you know your three most useful job skills?
- Have you decided whether you want to work primarily with people, data, things, or ideas?
- Have you identified some careers that interest you?
- Have you thought about how some of your favorite activities relate to jobs?
- Have you thought about the achievements that have been most satisfying to you in the past?
- Do you know what kind of rewards are important to you in a job?
- Have you thought about the setting in which you would like to work, e.g., large industrial, small business, government, nonprofit?
Research the organizations
Many of the organizations attending the career fair and their Web page links are often available online. Researching the organization allows you to have an informed conversation with the company representative at the career fair. Employers are impressed with those students who have made the effort to learn something about their organization. Find out:
- What is the organization's mission?
- What is the work culture?
- What products or services are offered by the organization?
- What opportunities for advancement exist?
- Where is their main office and would you like to work there?
- If they have other branches where are they located?
Review the profiles of the organizations attending the career fair
- Study the organization profiles to find out what types of positions or skills the organization is seeking. (Organization profiles are posted online for most career fairs.)
- Make a list of the organizations that interest you the most.
- Make your own "Top Ten" list.
Develop a List of Sample Questions
If you are just beginning to explore the job market , certainly ask any question that will help you learn about the industry, organization, or functions that characterize a specific job. If you are a serious candidate for a job with a particular organization, it is in your best interest to research the company ahead of time and to ask questions based on your research.
- What kind of entry level jobs are available in your organization? What kind of activities or tasks are characteristic of these jobs?
- Do you recruit for summer jobs?; If yes, what kinds of summer jobs are available?
- Where (geographically) are the most common locations for summer work? For entry level positions? What kind of mobility is expected of employees?
- What kind of educational background (or skills) (or characteristics) are you looking for when you recruit?
- What can I do now to prepare for a career in your organization or industry (e.g., class projects, summer experience, skill development)?
- What is the work environment like (size of organization, interaction with co-workers, type of supervision, hours in a typical work week and during busy times, travel)?
- What kind of training program do you provide?
- What are the opportunities for professional development?
- How are employees evaluated and what career paths are available?
- What is the job outlook for this career area? What will affect its growth or decline?
Prepare a Sales Pitch
At the Career Fair
After the Career Fair
- If an employer was especially helpful or interesting, write a brief letter to let him/her know you appreciated the opportunity to visit.
- Look for opportunities to contact key organizations again.
- Check HIREsooner or with Career Services to see if the organizations you are interested in have scheduled on-campus interviews