Preparing for Career Fairs

Photo of students in interview suits.

The Career Center co-sponsors four career fairs annually. We strongly recommend that you attend a career fair prep workshop beforehand and suggest that you use the following information to best prepare for attending a fair. We require you to sign up through the Career Center by the published deadline for fairs co-sponsored by the Career Center.

What to Expect: For basic tips and photos of recent fairs, request our PowerPoint document

Before the fair:
1. Clarify your goals. What specific career fields are you seeking? Are you looking for permanent positions or internships? Seeking interview practice? Trying to learn more about the job market? Clarifying your own professional goals?

2. Review a list of organizations that will be attending and plan your strategy:

  • Identify those you plan to talk with using the event links.
  • Research interesting organizations: carefully read their website, Google them for recent news, check them out on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, EbscoHost, etc. Don't rule out an organization just because you haven't heard of them; often smaller companies are more likely to hire than are Fortune 500s.
  • For each organization you plan to talk with, prepare key points that you want to share based on your research and write a list of at least 4 questions. Appropriate questions both reveal information about you and demonstrate your knowledge of the company. For example, "I have read about your new emphasis on sales and believe my summer experience in cold calling will help me to be effective with your organization. How has this policy impacted your profitability?" Avoid questions about salary and benefits at initial interviews.

3. Prepare an "elevator pitch" to introduce yourself to companies you are targeting:

4. Prepare a one page résumé without a career objective or bring a tailored résumé for each goal. Bring at least 15 copies of each to the fair. Carry your résumés in a portfolio folder, keeping them neat and organized. Follow the guidelines in our Résumé Guide for a professional document.

5. Dress appropriately:

Men Seeking Full-Time Jobs:

  • Dark suit (should fit well and be wrinkle-free)
  • Light colored or white shirt
  • Professional looking tie that coordinates with suit
  • Socks that match suit with conservative dress shoes
  • Avoid visible hair product and any cologne

Women Seeking Full-Time Jobs:

  • Dark suit (should fit well and be wrinkle-free; skirt or slacks that allow you to sit comfortably)
  • Light colored or white shirt
  • Neutral-toned hose and conservative dress shoes
  • Avoid heavily scented hair products, perfume, high heels, dangling earrings or heavy jewelry

Summer Employment or Internships:

  • Women: Dress slacks, sweater set or nice blouse
  • Men: Dress slacks, shirt and tie, blazer or sweater
  Photo of male students in business suitsPhoto of female students in interview attire.

6. Follow-up:
Finish your conversation by restating your interest in the position, and ask how they would prefer that you move ahead with the process. Ask for a business card, and send a thank you note within 48 hours of the fair if possible. Apply online if they recommend you do so.