Attending a career fair could land you a dream job! However, you need the right resources to be as prepared as possible. Even if you’ve been to a career fair in the past, it’s still a great idea to make sure you have all your ducks in a row before the event. You never know when you’ll meet your next boss! Below is a checklist to help you put your best foot forward:

Before the career fair:

  • Research the companies who are attending the fair.
    • In most cases, there will be a list available online. From there, conduct a quick LinkedIn search of each organization to get an idea of the type of industry they operate in. Also, be aware of mutual connections who work for each company as potential contacts in the future. Depending on your interests, you can start to create a list of companies you are interested in networking with during the fair.
  • Rehearse your personal elevator pitch.
    • Depending on the industry setting, your personal pitch will change. Prior to a career fair, pinpoint personal details you want an employer to know. Make sure to keep everything clear and concise! Take the top five things that set you apart on your resume, and go from there.
  • Bring the essentials.
    • Before a career fair, collect all the essential items you’ll need, but try to keep it light. Here are a few things you won’t want to leave at home: copies of your resume, pen, notepad, business cards (if you have them) and a business card holder.
  • Ask a peer to run through scenarios.
    • To avoid stuttering or feeling flustered by an unanticipated question, try to grab a friend who will run through common career fair scenarios with you. In fact, treat your conversations like a mini interview! Run through your answers to popular interview questions, such as:
      1. Where do you see yourself in five years?
      2. What are your top three work motivators?
      3. What do you know about the company?

During the career fair:

  • Ask for business cards from each contact.
    • It’s easy to get lost in conversation and forget to ask for contact information. Make sure you to ask for business cards before you head to the next booth. It will help you keep track of important contacts later on.
  • Practice great networking skills.
    • Career fairs are the perfect setting to practice networking skills. When you introduce yourself, speak clear, give a firm handshake and talk with confidence. It’s easy to get nervous when you’re talking to company representatives that you don’t know, but it’s great communication practice!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
    • While research is a major part of pre-career fair preparation, it’s okay to ask meaningful questions about the company. What do you want to know about the culture? What are the key skills they look out for in potential candidates? Is there a set training program? This is your chance to find out if the company is really a fit for what you’re looking for in your career. 

After the career fair:

  • Keep track of key contacts.
    • It’s easy to confuse important contacts after an event where you’re introducing yourself to multiple people over the course of a day. In order to keep everyone straight (especially for your top companies), organize a document with all the contacts you met with the following: company, first and last name, email address and any additional notes.
  • Follow up with contacts from the companies you were interested in.
    • Reach out to all of representatives you met for companies that you are most interested in. Feel free to send an email re-introducing yourself, thanking them for their time and it never hurts to connect on LinkedIn.
  • Conduct further research on other companies.
    • Keep your options open! The point of a career fair is to gain exposure to organizations you did not know before. If there are organizations you’re interested in, but didn’t get to talk to, reach out anyway!

Career fairs are great events for networking, practicing interview skills and even could land you your next dream job! To make the most out of the event, be sure to prepare ahead of time and have the right mindset going in. If you have anything else to add to the career fair checklist, feel free to share below.