Navigating Career Fairs

Fall 2020 Career Fairs will be held virtually on the new Handshake virtual fair platform. There will be multiple opportunities for you to meet online via video, audio, or text chat with employers in group or individual sessions to learn more about internships and full-time positions across many interest areas and roles.

View more information on upcoming Fall 2020 All Major Virtual Career Fairs here.

Whether it will be your first time participating in a career fair or if you’re just looking for some extra tips, you’re in the right place. It’s important to make the best impression possible from your 30 second elevator pitch, questions for each employer, and the follow-up after the fair.

The following suggestions will get you organized and help build your confidence for a successful experience for any fair.

How To Participate in Fall Fairs

First, there are a few things you MUST do to participate in Fall 2020 Fairs.

  1. Set up your profile in Handshake. You’ll nee to use Handshake to sign up for fairs and meet with employers. 
  2. Register for each fair you’re interested in. You need to be registered to view available employer sessions. Sign up for as many fairs as you’d like!
  3. Sign up for sessions with employers. Employers are available for group and 1:1 sessions, but space is limited and you’ll need to sign up to save your spot to meet with them. Sessions will continue to be posted before the fair, so check back frequently on Handshake.
Can’t get into a 1:1 session with an employer you’d like to meet with? Join group sessions so the employer will still have access to your resume, and you can also join 1:1 sessions with other employers.”

Before the Career Fairs

Now that you’re on Handshake, registered for fairs, and signed up for employer sessions, here are some tips to help you get ready for the fairs. The fairs may be online, but you should still plan, prepare, and have a strategy to make a great impression with employers.

First thing, make sure you have what you need for technical requirements to video chat with employers.

One important tip: Chrome/Firefox are the recommended browsers for you to use at the fairs – you may have issues with Safari.

Aside from the tips below, join us for fair preparation events (info coming soon) or schedule an advising appointment for 1:1 help with your resume, elevator pitch, or other fair prep.

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Tips to Prepare

  • Do your homework!
    • Research employers attending the fairs and learn about the specific organizations you plan to meet with, including what they do and what positions they are hiring for.
    • Write down 2 –3 questions you would ask a recruiter.
  • Upload your resume to Handshake. For help, click here.
  • If you’ll be connecting via video with employers, scope out a good, quiet spot in your residence or elsewhere with no distractions and a nice background
  • Record a professional voicemail message
  • Use a professional email address on your resume
  • Choose appropriate attire– business casual or business professional. Even though you’ll only be visible on a webcam, you’ll want to show employers that you take the opportunity to meet with them seriously and are ready to take on the job you want!
  • Prepare your 30-second introduction or “elevator pitch”: An introduction of yourself (name, major, year in school & whether you are looking for an internship or job), why you’re interested in the organization, and why you would be a good fit.

At the Career Fairs

It’s time to make a great impression and meet with employers. Make sure you’re familiar with how to join the employer sessions you signed up for, and be ready to log in right on time!

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Have these Items Ready

  • Your resume (for you to reference when speaking with the employer)
  • Any info you have about the organization (for example, their website up on your computer)
  • Paper and pen to take any notes you need during the session
  • Notes to help you with your elevator pitch
  • A list of questions to ask the employer
  • A glass of water

Present Yourself Professionally

  • Being knowledgeable about the organization and industry
  • Being able to explain why you are interested in working for them- show enthusiasm

Additional Tips

  • Ask thoughtful questions based on the research you did prior to the fair
  • Know your availability for the upcoming week in case the employer wants to schedule an interview
  • Ask recruiters for information on who to contact in the future
  • After talking to a recruiter, take a moment to write down a few key points to reference in your thank you email

After the Career Fairs

  • Send thank you e-mails within 24-hours of the career fair (that night or next morning is preferable)
  • In the email reference the UW-Madison career fair you participated in
  • Timeliness is important as many recruiters travel to multiple career fairs within the same week
  • Include key points you may have discussed with the employer to remind them of your conversation
  • Contact SuccessWorks (or your School/College career office if you need contact information for an employer representative who you spoke with at the fair)

Career Fair Sample Questions

Career and internship fairs are a great opportunity to talk with employer representatives about their
organizations and employment opportunities. Be prepared to ask questions! Don’t be uncomfortable approaching the recruiters.
They will be eager to talk with you and answer any questions you may have.

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Suggested Questions to Help You Get Started

  • What skills or traits do you look for in candidates?
  • What is your company’s hiring timeline?
  • What are some of the key responsibilities of this job/internship?
  • What is a typical career path for someone coming in at my level?
  • What kind of training program does your firm have? Formal/Informal? Short term/Long term?
  • What is a day like in this position?
  • What type of formal education is required for entry-level, mid-level, upper-level, positions?
  • Do people filling this type of position work in a structured or non-structured environment?
  • How is performance evaluated? How often?
  • What degree of task variety would a person see in their first year?
  • What opportunities did you take advantage of while you were in college to help you prepare for your job?
  • How did you begin your career? If you had anything to do differently, what would it be?
  • How would you describe your job?
  • What do you like/dislike most about your job?
  • How much client contact do you have?
  • How much contact do you have with others inside your firm?
  • How much freedom do you have in terms of deciding what you want to work on and how to plan the project? How much does this change with experience?
  • What is your company’s policy on continuing education? For example, will they reimburse you for classes taken towards higher education?
  • Is relocation/travel typically required in this career field?
  • Where does your organization have offices within the U.S.? Worldwide?
  • How easy/difficult is it to transfer to another location?
  • What professional societies or associations should I join?
  • Which professional publications in this field should I read?
  • What important changes are occurring in your field now? How will they affect the career of someone like me just starting out in your field

Career Fair Follow-Up Tips

Thank you notes:

If you don’t get their contact information, write down a recruiter’s name from your conversation. It’s usually not that difficult to find a company representative’s email address, and you can show great initiative to an employer by finding their email to send them a thank you note.

Sample Follow-up Email to an employer:

Dear (fill in name of recruiter here):
It was a pleasure speaking to you at the (fill in name of the career fair) at UW-Madison on (fill in date). I am very interested in your (fill in name of position) and enjoyed hearing from you what it’s like to work at(fill in name of company/organization). (Add in anything else related to your conversation as well as what they mentioned you need to do to continue through their process such as apply on-line, etc).

I appreciate your time and look forward to pursuing an opportunity at (fill in name of company/organization).

Sincerely,
(fill in name)

 

Additional Tips:

LinkedIn: Connect with recruiters and employers via LinkedIn. You will find that some recruiters want to connect with potential candidates. Be prepared that some will not though. In addition, be sure to follow a company’s LinkedIn page. LinkedIn provides a tremendous platform for connecting and sharing with potential colleagues.

Twitter: Companies and organization are also effectively using this tool. Job seekers are making a huge mistake by not taking advantage of Twitter and following a potential employer’s Twitter feed. Many companies have a special account just for their career division and a number of recruiters have Twitter accounts themselves.

Cover Letters: Anytime you send a resume to a potential employer, you should include a cover letter. Followup with recruiters after a career fair by re-sending your resume and cover letter. While many will tell you they never read cover letters, many do. It’s not worth it to try and guess who does and doesn’t read cover letters, so just write the letter and tailor it to the specific position you are applying for.

Other company representatives: Believe it or not, your employer meetings at career fairs can really pay off when reaching out to other representatives of the company. Use the story as a lead in for cover letters, conversations or interviews to show your effort in connecting with an employer.