Prepare for a Career Fair

  1. Review the list of organizations and research those that interest you. The list of participating companies can usually be found in Handshake @ Illiinois or on a webpage dedicated to the fair.  
  2. Update your resume and have it reviewed. 
  3. Practice your elevator speech.
  4. Gather items to take to the Career Fair - like portfolio with notepad and pen; copies of your resume (more than the numbers of companies you plan to visit); and research notes on the companies.
  5. Determine if companies are holding pre-fair talks or events on campus - many companies will host info sessions on the eve of attending a fair.  Get a head start by learning about companies and meet their recruiters before the fair.
  6. Prepare questions to ask employers.
  7. Plan and prepare appropriate attire.


Related Services

Approaching Employers at a Career Fair

Leave your backpack at home or in a designated area. If in a line, pay attention to conversations of those ahead of you. Establish eye contact, shake hands, and introduce yourself. Be confident and upbeat. Smile and thank the recruiter at the end of your conversation. Most interactions will be brief, often 3-4 minutes. However, if no one else is in line you could have a longer conversation.

Be ready to have a conversation about your interest in the company. Ask about job/internship opportunities, the application process, qualifications, and potential career paths. Relax and speak slowly. Articulate how your interests and qualifications are well-aligned with the organization's needs. Take notes about next steps and distribute your resume. At the end of the conversation, request a business card and/or contact information.


Following Up After the Fair

Take Action. Apply for positions of interest through Handshake @ Illinois, the company website, or however you were directed at the fair. You can also send a quick thank you email (within 24 hours) to contacts you met at the fair. Refer back to something from your conversation and attach your resume.  Reiterate your interest in the company and the positions they have available.  Keep a file of all contacts made with the employer, including dates and application materials sent to them.

Many organizations will schedule interviews at the career fair. If you schedule an interview at the fair, be sure to keep detailed information about the date, time, and location of your interview. Also, be sure to get contact information of your interviewer in case you need to contact him/her. Be careful to not double-book yourself. Also, leave enough time between interviews to allow for travel to another interview location or interviews going over the intended time.