Are Career Fairs Worth Your Time?
From my experience on both sides of the equation—as a student seeking my first accounting position and as a recruiter screening new grads to work at Weinstein Spira—I can honestly say that career fairs are a great opportunity that you do not want to miss. It is an ideal way to explore (and apply to) multiple companies all in one place.
Want to Boost Your Career Fair Outcome?
With any career fair, whether on or off campus, there are the obvious recommendations to get the most out of attending and tips that you have no doubt heard before, such as bringing copies of your resume, dressing professionally and making eye contact/smiling when talking with a representative of a prospective employer. But I’d like to add some more subtle, lesser known things to that list, which will help you make the most out of your next career fair experience. These actions will ensure you stand out from the crowd (and that I look for when recruiting). They include:
- Research companies ahead of time. It’s essential to know as much as you can about the companies you want to target at a career fair. Spend some time exploring their websites; looking not just at the home page but also services offered, key personnel, and recent blog posts. It will be impressive to any recruiter that you cared enough to do so.
- Keep your resume to 1 page. For career fair purposes, a 1-pager is all recruiters have time to scan on the spot. The main highlights should be towards the top, as that is where the questions will most likely focus. For example, if you have done an internship, make sure to put that first.
- Have something unique to talk about. Think of an interesting skill or hobby (even a fun fact) that you can weave into the conversation, helping to distinguish you from other applicants. At one career fair, I recall a student mentioning weight lifting and that definitely jogged my memory when reviewing a pile of resumes back at the office.
- Be engaged when speaking. Make a recruiter feel like you have searched them out, not just passing by another table. Since it’s hard to keep dragging out the same information over and over, it will be a welcome change for you to lead the conversation. This demonstrates your initiative, as well as an ability to handle yourself and to drive the interaction forward. These are all good indicators for how you would potentially deal with clients. And above all, don’t be afraid to ask questions!
- Meet as many people as you can. There is still nothing like meeting recruiters in person and shaking hands to connect (as opposed to applying for jobs online via Indeed or LinkedIn). It’s also a good way to practice your interviewing skills in a less formal environment. However, it can be overwhelming, so don’t forget to collect business cards for later reference.
- Attend multiple career fair events. Often, there will be more than one career fair event held throughout the semester with most of the same companies and firms represented. Don’t assume that meeting once is enough. It really pays off to connect with the same company(ies) you are targeting as many times as possible. This shows continued interest and that you are a serious candidate, not just looking for a job.
- Build rapport with recruiters. It takes several interactions to make a connection with any type of networking. With the sea of people at a given career fair, the more you interact, the more likely you are to stand out and be remembered. When you stop by the same recruiter’s table, mention that it is nice to see them again; and in cases of a different recruiter, mention who you spoke with last time.
- Send a follow-up email. Writing a “short” email to thank recruiters for their time and express why you want a job at their company shows your passion about working for them in particular. It also helps to say it was great meeting them and how excited you are to hear more about their company.
Although there will always be competition, you can and should make every effort to raise your visibility and gain an edge by capturing the attention of recruiters. Hopefully, these “insider” tips will make a difference in the way you approach career fair opportunities in the future.
Good luck in finding the right job for you!
If you are seeking a role in public accounting, please visit our career opportunities page to apply at Weinstein Spira.