Faring at the Fair: Make an Impression at Your First Career Fair

As Purdue University kicks off career fair season with the Industrial Roundtable, you might be wondering how you can stand out in a crowd of competition. Whether this is your first job fair or you just need some refreshers, here are some pointers for making a great impression.

  1. Prepare your elevator pitch. When you introduce yourself, have something to say other than “My name is…” Practice this beforehand. You have 30 seconds to say who you are, tell what makes you a good candidate, and make yourself memorable. Keep it conversational, and try to end with a question to engage the recruiter.
  2. Do your homework. Before you show up, have an idea of what companies you want to talk to. Know more about the company than what you see on the home page. Do a little digging so you can talk about something different than everyone else in line. Look at press releases, blogs, and company social media pages for a few ideas.
  3. Dress the part. At a meet and greet, think business casual. You will be walking around and talking to a lot of people. Be professional, but be comfortable. Save the suit for the interview.
  4. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone new. If a company catches your eye that you didn’t prepare for, don’t be shy. Introduce yourself, and be honest. “I noticed on your sign that your company… I’m interested in that because…” Exchange your résumé for a pamphlet. Don’t pretend to know it all, just express that you’re talking to them because of a genuine interest in what they do.
  5. Be professional when taking freebies. A lot of companies have great freebies at fairs. Just remember you are there to find a job. Don’t take freebies from companies that don’t interest you, and don’t take more than your share of freebies from the companies that do.
  6. Have more than enough copies of your polished résumé. Not only do you want an error-free résumé that includes all pertinent information about yourself, you need to have enough. If you want to talk to five companies, plan on handing over at least two or three per table. On top of that, take ten more. It won’t hurt.
  7. Keep business cards at the ready. Sometimes recruiters don’t accept résumés. Don’t be flustered if this happens. Have a few business cards in your pocket with your name, major, and contact information.

Good luck at your upcoming career fairs. If you need one-on-one help, stop by Purdue’s Center for Career Opportunities. We’re happy to help!


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