Navigating the Career Fair

What do you bring to their table?

With such a high demand for entry-level and highly skilled workers, it’s a great time to look for a new position and try your hand at networking with recruiters. Many employers are casting a wider net than they used to. They are looking at the benefit of older workers and people with nontraditional backgrounds.

To help you put your best foot forward, we asked for some job fair tips from Nancy Nelson, an HR consultant and co-chair of the UCSC Extension Human Resource Management certificate program. Nancy is one of at least five instructors from our HRM program who will be onsite Feb. 28 at our Career Fair 2019 to guide job seekers with resumes, interviewing techniques, and professional elevator pitches to help them land their next job. Our last job fair drew several hundred of job seekers. We hope to see you there.

Before the Career Fair: Prepare

Research and Learn
Find out as much about the company as you can. Visit our events page to learn about the companies. Visit their job pages, their LinkedIn pages. Look them up on Glassdoor. Know what positions are open.

Use Your Connections
Do you know someone at one of the job fair companies? Reach out and learn more about the company culture, the position, the hiring process. Could they help with an introduction to the hiring manager? Reach out to someone at the company before the event.

Know Your Value
What’s your elevator pitch? Do you know how your background and experience could benefit the company? What makes you different from other applicants? Prepare a list of questions you might be asked based on your experience. (Remember, several highly experienced HR instructors will be on hand to help you prepare for the job fair. Ask them questions and get their feedback.)

Polish up Your Resume
Keep it to one page, (or two pages max). It should be based on what you’ve accomplished. Use action words (developed, initiated, doubled, grew, trained, transformed, etc.) and quantify results through numbers. Were you just in the room or did you increase the number of recruits by 50%? List your professional certificate on your resume so recruiters know you’re continuing to learn the latest skills. Where do you volunteer?

Social Media Inventory
Update your LinkedIn Page with a good photo and clean up your social media presence as best you can.

Be Adaptable
If you’re really interested in a particular company and they don’t have a position that you’re interested in, see if there is one that would be complimentary to your skills. Prepare different versions of your resume to focus on different strengths and different positions.

At the Event: Connect

Dress the part
Wear professional work attire for an interview. Business causal is fine, but err on the side of being a little more professional

Make a connection
A lot of people go from table to table passing out their resumes. That’s not going to be as effective as taking the time to meet people. Shake their hand, get their business card, ask them how they’re doing and let them know what you like about the company. Learn more.

This is the Interview
A lot of people are getting interviews right at the table. Offers are being made on the spot—particularly for entry-level positions. Assume they’re going to interview you right there.

What do you bring to their table?
A lot of people at job fairs talk about their goals and what they want for their career. Great. And, employers want to know how you fit into their bigger picture. Keep the company’s perspective in mind. What do you offer?

Post-Career Fair: Follow Up

Thank you
Make it personal, reference something you talked about or appreciated about your encounter with the company recruiter. Differentiate yourself. Highlight what makes you shine. A professional certificate is a great way to show your drive to excel and have an open mind to keep learning. Cards are even better than email. Thank goodness you saved their business card!

No Ghosting
We shouldn’t have to say this, but here goes…If you change your mind or get a better offer, don’t just skip your scheduled interview. Be professional. Let them know. Today’s great job market is temporary. When it contracts, you want to have a legacy of professionalism behind you, not burnt bridges.

Rely on Your Network
Keep networking. Check in with your instructors and colleagues after the career fair as well.

The Contract Gig
The trend is toward flexible work schedules and new ways of working. Sometimes temporary work like freelance or contract or working through a job agency can be a good way to explore a company and a good way for a company to get to know you.

Thanks to HR consultant Nancy Nelson, B.A., SPHR, GPHR, SHRM-SCP of HRProse, LLC, who serves as co-chair of the Human Resource Management certificate program and provided us with her best job fair tips. Nancy has more than 20 years’ experience managing a variety of corporate HR functions in the telecommunications and high tech sectors. Previously she served as HR director for Ultra Clean Technology and taught as adjunct faculty at CSU East Bay College of Business and Economics. She has facilitated the Northern California Human Resource Association PHR/SHRM certification prep course, is active in HR organizations, and is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources by the Human Resources Certification Institute and as a mediator. She has taught at UCSC Extension since 2007.


Register Today

Job Seekers: Sign up now for Career Fair 2019.

Employers: Reserve your table now to meet qualified, highly skilled prospective employees.

Leave a Reply