Students shake the hands of potential employers at the career fair.

10 Tips For Getting the Most Out of the Career Fair

Even though it might seem like college could last forever, the working world awaits. Whether this is your first year at Chapman University or your last, the Career Fair is smart investment in your future.

“This (The Career Fair) is for everyone! Every major, freshmen to seniors, even grad students and alumni – all benefit,” says Franciska Morlet (M.A. ’17), associate director of employer relations, “It isn’t just about part- and full-time jobs. There are volunteer, internship opportunities and more.”

Check out these helpful 10 tips to get ready for your best Career Fair experience yet.

It isn’t just about part- and full-time jobs. There are volunteer, internship opportunities and more.

Woman at the career fair talks to employers.

1.Research companies and make a list

Over 60 top employers are attending the career fair including Angels Baseball LP, CHOC, CoreLogic, Ingram Micro, Target Corporation, Volcom, and Johnson & Johnson—just to name a few. Use Handshake to find employers you’re interested in and learn the basics about the employers that you’re targeting. At minimum, you should know one or two of their most important products or services, what types of customers buy them and where they’re based. A brief visit to the companies’ web sites should provide you with the information you need.

Don’t feel the need to go overboard, says Suzanne Manning, recruiting and branch-training manager for the New Jersey and New York offices of Expeditors, a Seattle-based logistics company. “Recruiters don’t expect you to be as knowledgeable about their businesses at a job fair as you would for a full-blown interview,” she says. See the Vault Company Guides and Lists from the Office of Career and Professional Development. The organizations attending the fair are companies that “Think Chapman First” and have a preference for hiring Chapman talent.

“I just got off the phone with a company that will be attending, and what they said was exactly what we see in employer surveys,” says Morlet, “Employers say that Chapman has an ‘it factor’… Chapman has it, and the recruiters want it – they want the talent, they want the top school… and they see Chapman as that school.”

Employers say that Chapman has an ‘it factor’… Chapman has it, and the recruiters want it.

Career Fair Stories | Julia Ross ’19 from Chapman University Career on Vimeo.

2. Develop questions

Prepare thoughtful questions that demonstrate your interest in a given company. These can serve as conversation starters.

“The Career Fair is a chance to meet company representatives and alumni from some of the biggest organizations in Orange County. I always tell alumni and students to introduce themselves, share their interest in the company, and engage in a meaningful conversation. – Jo Bandy, Executive Director of the Office of Career and Professional Development.”

I always tell alumni and students to introduce themselves, share their interest in the company, and engage in a meaningful conversation.

3. Create an elevator pitch

Develop a short statement about who you are that shows why you’re unique and desirable as a job applicant. See this helpful worksheet to craft your perfect pitch.

Career Expo Success Stories | Joshua Leung ’18 from Chapman University Career on Vimeo.

4. Know what you want

Job seekers should be able to tell recruiters what kind of work they want to do after college. “Students don’t need to cite specific positions or job titles, but they should have an overall feel for the kind of job they want,” says Manning, recruiting and branch-training manager. Of course, many job seekers admit they aren’t certain what they want to do. “I’ll take anything,” says Chris Beaman, a 2003 Rutgers psychology graduate who has been seeking full-time employment since earning his degree in January. Offering this kind of information won’t score you any points with recruiters. If you truly lack direction, make an appointment with your campus career-services office for a career assessment.

5. Map out your tour

Most campus job fairs take place in large auditoriums designed to hold the many participating employers. Save time and energy by finding out which employers will be attending and where they’ll be located in the room. The map of the Career Fair is available on the day of the fair.

Career Expo Success Stories | Jackie Diebold ’17 from Chapman University Career on Vimeo.

6. Bring a one-page resume

Recruiters at job fairs don’t want to see resumes that exceed a page, yet some college seniors and recent grads still hand them lengthier documents. “Resumes shouldn’t come with staples,” says Jessica Sun, an associate with Navigant Consulting in Princeton, N.J. “You don’t need to put down everything you’ve ever done or list every class you’ve taken.” She recommends devoting most of your resume to relevant work experience and applicable courses. Download these Resume Guides from the Office of Career and Professional Development and see this helpful article.

7. Arrive prepared

Have a pen handy to jot down notes. Bring a folder with copies of your resume to hand out. Bring two resumes for every employer you plan to speak to. So, if your list has six employers, bring 12 resumes. Circle the entire Career Fair when you arrive to give yourself a chance to get used to the room. Locate your targeted employers.

Career Expo Success Stories | Leah Thomas ’17 from Chapman University Career on Vimeo.

8. Follow up

Collect business cards from company representatives. Send thank-you notes to follow up, inquiring about open positions. See tips on writing thank letters and other professional correspondence from the Office of Career and Professional Development.

9. Dress up

Wearing a suit or dressy clothes may be a radical departure from your normal attire, but you won’t stick out at a job fair. Wearing business clothes tells recruiters that you’re serious about your career after college. Hakan Balik, a senior majoring in economics, had his suit dry-cleaned for the fair. Seeking an entry-level job in mortgage insurance or another financial-services field, Balik was among the majority of attendees in professional attire. The Office of Career and Professional Development recommends business professional attire, neatly styled hair, subtle fragrances only, clean nails and subtle jewelry.

10. Work on that handshake

Sharon Richards, a recruiter for accounting firm Deloitte & Touche LLP in New York, says a limp handshake is one of her pet peeves about candidates. “It may not seem like a big deal, but it’s a real turnoff,” she says. Practice with a friend until you’ve developed a firm grip. Also, keep a cloth handy if you tend to have sweaty palms.

With so many employers, alumni and recruiters that fiercely believe in Chapman talent all in one room, opportunity is certainly knocking.

“These organizations have a preference for Chapman talent- this is your opportunity to take advantage of that,” says Bandy.

“It’s right in front of you,” Morlet says, “Take a leap of faith and come. You never know what door one conversation might open.”

The Fall Career Fair is Wednesday, September 18, 1:30–4:30 p.m.

Want to see behind the scenes of the Career Fair? Follow  Aaron Vilaubi, ’17, Employer Relations Assistant, as he takes over the @ChapmanUFamily instagram account.

 

These tips are compiled from resources and articles on vault.com.

Stephanie House