Many colleges host career fairs to benefit their students. You probably recognize the scene: a host of employers set up camp in the student commons and await the latest stellar resumes to fly into their zip code. The thing is: students don’t always stop by to take advantage of the event. Minnesota School of Business wants you to be career ready! Here are the top four tips on how to turn a career fair into a job.
Be Open to the Opportunity. Sometimes you create your own luck just by being there. Michael Dase is a medical assistant student at Minnesota School of Business-St. Cloud who recently landed a job in his field as a direct result of participating in a Career Fair on campus.
“I was not prepared to make a big change or change jobs. That was until I met REM Central Lakes at the career fair,” Dase said. “I liked what their company was about, and I knew it was eventually going to present a challenge for me.”
Dase filled out an application on a Friday afternoon, received a call on Tuesday morning and interviewed a week later. Without a walk around the career fair, Dase would not have even been aware of the position opening.
“Today’s companies run on technology and have many satellite offices that require a significant amount of support that need skilled labor and advanced degrees in many areas. So, for example, if they are a pet care supply store, they may be hiring for more than just sales people,” Director of Career Services Shannon Templin points out. “Be open to all companies. The opportunities may surprise you!”
Be Prepared. Even if you aren’t actively pursuing a new job or career, be ready for opportunities to present themselves. What if your dream employer happens to be sitting at a booth that very afternoon? You want to present your best possible professional self.
Although Dase wasn’t currently seeking employment, he was prepared all the same.
“I did seek advice on campus,” he said. “Career services helped me with my resume. We sat down and went step by step on how to improve it. I also set up a mock interview. I would have to say that really helped me.”
In addition, it is important to look the part. Approach the employer as you would on an interview. Be set to impress.
Hone your skills. The end game to all this college stuff is a job, right? So whether you are job searching now or later, you will need to practice the skills that will get you hired. Certainly preparing a resume, learning to dress for success and filling out an eye-catching application are all on the list. But another extremely important step in the process is the face-to-face contact with potential employers and your personal elevator speech. What better way to rehearse these interpersonal skills than at a career fair before the stakes are high?
Asking for on-the-spot feedback from the employers after you speak with them is both appropriate and valuable, by the way. Those who partner with colleges at job fair events are aware that students are just starting out and are willing to coach them in hiring do’s and don’ts.
Templin encourages students, “Stop in and talk to the recruiters. Be positive and energetic about your skills. Show interest and ask questions.”
Don’t Wait. As the saying goes, don’t wait until you need a job to look for a job. The networking you do at a career fair now can pay off for you later down the road. And any on-the-job experience you gain as a student will enrich your chances of being hired at an ideal company after your graduation. Dase advises his fellow students: “Don’t wait till the last minute to get that job. Go to the career fairs and see what your options are. Even if you are in your third of fourth quarter of a two-year program, gain the experience while still going to school.”