15 tips for Success in Career Fair

By Nicole Pacillas, Edward Sauger, David Nagy and Xhino Marellari

Looking for a job can be intimidating, cumbersome, and stressful, especially when you are not prepared, but there is still hope.  Every semester the University of Houston offers several career fairs to students and even the surrounding community such as the Houston Interactive Marketing Association/Bauer College of Business Career Fair. When preparing for a career fair, it is good to follow these 15 tips and the advice of professionals who know what you need to do to make the most of the event.

  1. Success Through Dress –  Treat any career fair like a job interview for it is truly a company’s first impression of you! Make sure you dress in professional business attire even if you have to, borrow, rent or buy from a thrift shop.It is pointless to show up to the career fair in jeans and tennis shoes.  Guys, make sure you are wearing a full suit with polished shoes and a tie.  And ladies, make sure you are in a business suit or something similar as well.  Prospective employers do recognize how you are dressed, and that can influence their interest in you.
  2. Find Your Allies – For many students, the only entrance to career fair is through the event’s front door at the designated time, but there may be other ways in. This hidden access might be found in your college’s, associations, who sometimes volunteer to help out at career fairs. Volunteers are often allowed to enter the event up to one hour prior to the starting time, giving you an opportunity to help and interact with employers while they set up. Employers can then see that you are involved in extracurricular activities and volunteer service outside of school. This demonstrates what we like to call, “actions speaking louder than words.”
  3. Plan Ahead and Arrive Early– We all know the city of Houston’s traffic and the horrors that reside in the parking lot’s of University of Houston around the hours of 10a.m. to 4p.m., so make an attempt to arrive early.  Arriving early can land you a prime parking spot that save you from walking through the dirt- or mud- filled parking lots butting the Third Ward.  Arriving early can also allow you to make secondary preparations, grab a good breakfast, and help quiet those nerves in your stomach. The most important thing about arriving early is that you will be one of the first faces through that ballroom door. And, guess who’ll be staring at it — recruiters!
  4. Thirst for Knowledge – After you’ve done your research on the companies you plan to see, sketch out questions to ask the recruiter’s. Having questions about the company shows that you are interested, and energized for a potential opportunity.
  5. Clean up Your Act – Now, and in the future social media is everywhere and everything, so make sure you clean up your social media presence. Be sure your profiles look professional before you share your name with recruiters. They want to know that you can be a proper representative of their company on and off the job.
  6. “Mock Trials” – Nervous about the questions the companies may ask? Most universities’ career centers offer mock interviews to give you an idea of what real interviews feel like and help you be better prepared. After three mock interviews, I guarantee your nervousness will be minimized.
  7. EQ and IQ Nonverbal: First impressions are crucial. Having a strong and proper handshake, appearance and clothing is important. Be confident, understand personal space, and mirror the recruiter. Verbal: Speak clearly and pleasantly. Avoid filler words, and be positive in your speech. Know your recruiter before hand, and have your questions ready.
  8. Your Paper Impression – Format your resume so that it is easy for the recruiter to read. Highlight your accomplishments, don’t just rely on job descriptions and experiences. Do not use industry jargon. Cater your resume to the industry and position that you are applying for. Create a career summary instead of an objective. Have someone read and go over it before-hand. Check it for spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Don’t rely solely on spell check.
  9. Walk and Talk – Prior to the career fair, practice working a room with a lot of social activity.  Attend a local college party, bar or get-together. Socialize at the location shaking hands and looking people in the eye.
  10. It’s All About Who You Know – Mentors can be exciting, dynamic, and can elevate you to new heights when it comes to a career fair.  Here are some tips to get in contact with them: 1) Link up with mentors through your college associations whether at a professional social or even with alumni of the association. 2) If you know any friends or family who are experiencing success in the career you’re pursuing, tell them you are serious about a mentorship.
  11. Plan of Attack – Study the companies going to the career fair. Some might not be recruiting your major and many attendees will often make the mistake of waiting in line just to realize they are unwanted.  Knowing some details about the company’s you have interests in can show initiative, and be demonstrated at the career fair.
  12. “Focus on Target” – Understand the positions you are trying to fill and how your education fits them. Set aside two hours to conduct thorough research of the position requirements beforehand so that you have a refined list of the best companies at the fair for you.
  13. One-Hour of Power – Whether you are having trouble structuring your resume or even need help to redefine your LinkedIn account, Bauer has the workshops for you.
  14. Keep to a Calendar – The week following up to the career fair and the week of can be very stressful, make sure you have your calendar organized so you don’t add to the stress!  
  15. Home Field Advantage – Prior to the career fair, get ready! Print your resume according to the number of companies you have planned to meet with and 2-3 extra copies just in case.  Also make sure to polish your shoes, prepare your outfit, eat some food, and get some early sleep for energy.

Now that you’ve gone through these tips, are you ready to undertake the next step in finding your career? Click here the links below and reserve a place to define your future.