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College Career Fairs: The Dos & Don’ts from a Corporate Recruiter

College career fairs, to me, are charged up with the same mixed feelings as a high school lunch room on day one of your freshman year. There’s excitement, a little bit of anxiety, and plenty of uncertainty. Where are you going to sit? Who are you going to talk to? Will your choices now affect the rest of your life forever?

Whoa. No need to get worked up.

As recruiters, we know how important it is for you to like us and vice versa. Frankly, both sides of a career fair want to be on their A-game. Now that the cat’s out of the bag, here are a few strategies to win over an employer in five minutes or less at your next college career fair.

Do – Have a Strong Handshake & Eye Contact

This is your first impression. Own it. Employers in every industry look for confidence. Positive body language signals self-assurance and implies you can handle new situations without itching for the panic button.

Don’t – Lose Your Confidence

Act scared or fearful when approaching the booth. I promise that we actually look forward to meeting and getting to know college students. So own you. There are ways to balance your true self while treating each booth attendant as what they are: a shot at a potential future employer.

Do – Come Prepared

The essentials include a brief elevator pitch and a one page resume. You’ll earn yourself bonus points if your info is printed on a fresh sheet of resume paper. And even more points if all your resumes are tucked away into a padfolio or solid color folder.

Don’t – Neglect the Presentation

I assure you that the way you present your resume to a recruiter says a lot about your organizational skills. Resumes that are retrieved from your purse or pocket always receive less consideration. And anything crumpled goes straight into the recycle bin.

Plus, you need to avoid stuffing your resume with everything you did in college. Your resume is a memento of your conversation. Let your elevator pitch do your selling for you and the back and forth between you and the recruiter get them interested. And when they are, they’ll ask for your resume or tell you how to apply.

Bonus tip: Using some of these networking tips can help you to make a good first impression.

Do – Research

Take care of your research before the fair. Know which companies will be attending and what they do. We, as employers, understand that you will not know everything about every booth; but we do want to see that you put in the effort. Preparedness separates the top contenders from the undistinguished crowd.

Bonus tip: we put what majors we want and the positions that are open in the college career fair guide to maximize your time.

Don’t – Go In Blind

Most tables have banners, signage, or pamphlets outlining their industry, their product/services, and what types of positions they want to fill in your career fair guide. Don’t be discouraged from asking questions. Instead, be specific about what you ask. “What can I expect to learn in this position?” “Where can someone in this position expect to be in five years?” “How does your team work?” You know, things you can’t reveal by doing a quick Google search.

Do – Dress for the Role

What should you wear? We’ll keep it simple.

Don’t – Underdress

Assume that a blazer and khakis or a dress you wore out with a jacket over it is a good option. Always do your research before your college career fair (and any subsequent interviews) to check dress code. Fun Fact: every interview is at least business professional regardless of the company’s dress code.

College Career Fairs Coming to You!

Part of being ready for college career fairs is knowing when one is coming to town. Your university career counseling department will post upcoming events online. But if you want to see if a specific recruiter will be visiting your school or one close by, we recommend you check their website.

We regularly attend college career fairs across the country and would love to meet you soon. We’ve found many of our best team members through events like these. College prepared our future team members for a career in sales and recruiting in ways they didn’t even imagine. You can see our career fair schedule by checking out our Careers at IDR page. We’d love to talk and see if we’re the right fit for you.

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