Getting the Most Out of the Career Fair

Attending a career fair can be both exciting and intimidating. Here are some helpful tips from the Career Center to make you confident and well prepared for the Career Fair!

Be Well Prepared

This is your moment to impress the employer. First impressions are very important. Only a small percentage of students will stand out in the minds of recruiters by the end of the event. Be one of those memorable students! Dress professionally, practice your best handshake, make eye contact, and, most importantly, be prepared. Research the organizations before the Career Fair and bring plenty of copies of your most recent resume. Do not have your friends hanging around you when you talk to the employers.

Develop a Strategy

Develop a specific strategy for maximizing your time at the event. A list of participating organizations is available in connectSC before the event. Make a list of the organizations in which you are interested and research them. Visit their websites, learn their latest news, prepare questions you cannot easily find answers to on their websites, and find out what positions they are looking to fill. Your preparation will become evident in your interaction with the organization’s representatives. You will be able to engage in relevant conversation and ask intelligent questions. Do not be the student asking, “Can you tell me about your organization?” If you are interested in an interview, prepare and strategize accordingly.

Be a Strong Candidate

Know who you are. Be confident in your presentation. In the 30 seconds that the recruiter reviews your resume, the employer should quickly learn your experiences and skills. Ensure that your resume is polished, concise, and digestible. Career advisors can help you with your resume. The Career Center hosts resume workshops dedicated to helping you fine-tune your resume. Access the workshop schedule at http://careers.usc.edu/events/.  You can also find helpful information at https://careers.usc.edu/students/write-a-resume/. There are 24/7 Virtual Resume Critiques for all Dornsife, Marshall, and Viterbi students through the USC VMock website at https://www.vmock.com/usc.  Log in with your USC nine-digit ID and upload your resume.

Initiate Conversation

You have only a couple of minutes to make an impression at the Career Fair. You have 3-5 minutes with a recruiter to deliver your pitch and ask questions, so be prepared.  Ask good questions that will help you decide whether you really would like to work for a particular organization. Do not be afraid or intimidated by the recruiters; they are there to meet and screen potential candidates. Take the initiative to begin the conversation. Recruiters understand that many students want to talk with them, and they are happy to engage in conversation. However, do not overstay your welcome.  Remember, this is not an interview.  You want to ensure a strong impact, so if all that the recruiters recall of your conversation is that you monopolized their time during the fair and stayed longer than needed, you will probably be passed over for an interview.

Know Your Audience

It is easy to get confused with over 150 organizations at the event. Prepare a specific list of questions for each organization with which you plan to meet. Know to whom you are speaking, and do not call the recruiter by the wrong name!  Additionally, do not mention another organization’s name. The representative will realize that you are not paying attention and will not move you forward in the recruitment process.

If you are interested in moving to the next level, which means a more formal interview, ask about the next steps, but do not be too forward. Ask for the recruiter’s business card or email address.  Make sure you know the name of the person you spoke with from each organization. Once you have the recruiters’ information, you can thank them for their time or ask follow-up questions by sending a thank-you email.  If an interview is not scheduled immediately, do not worry; your email might help the employer to decide to invite you back.

Make Connections Through Networking

Workshops, informational interviews, and Trojan Talks are ways to begin building a network. Networking can help you to clarify and define your interests in various career fields, as well as connect you to internship and full-time opportunities. Effective ways to begin networking include informational interviews, attending attending Career Center workshops, i3 events, Career Fairs, and Trojan Talks. Events sponsored by the Career Center throughout the school year offer opportunities to meet professionals in your field of interest and get your resume in front of potential employers.