Spring job fair aims to connect students, employers

More than 170 corporate employers, government agencies and non-profit organizations fill the floor within Thompson-Boling Arena for the Fall Job Fair on Sept. 24, 2013. This semester's job and internship fair will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 4, from 2-6 p.m. on the floor of Thompson-Boling Arena.

Booths and booths of company information, crowds of undergraduates in business wear – it’s job fair season. UT holds a lot of different job fairs every semester. There are three field-specific job fairs left this semester: the Communication & Information Job & Internship Fair on Oct. 9, the Herbert College of Agriculture Career Fair on Oct. 9 and the Construction Science Career Fair on Oct. 10.

Bigger fairs are on their way for the spring semester, as seniors prepare to graduate and find their first out-of-school jobs. The Spring Job & Internship Fair is in February, followed by several college-specific fairs.

So what do you do in a job fair? They can be intimidating – after all, it’s kind of like an interview, except you’re surrounded by potential employers and other candidates.

But in the end, those potential employers want you to make a good impression – and they want to make a good impression on you. Here’s five tips for a low-stress, successful job fair.

Pick your favorites.

Even the smaller, field-specific fairs can have dozens of employers. Even if you would be happy working for any of them, you won’t be able to learn enough about every single one to make a good impression. Instead, look through the list of companies beforehand and choose a short list – probably under 10 – that you really want to talk to.

Once you have your favorites, do a little research. Take note of what openings they have, what they do, and why you would be a good fit. If your list has more than five or so employers, it might be a good idea to type up some notes on your phone.

According to Muse.com, doing research before the fair is about more than just getting over nerves – employers can tell.

Get your resume ready.

When’s the last time you updated your resume? To have a competitive, up-to-date resume or C.V., you can go to a walk-in resume review at the Center for Career Development. They also have online and print resources for everything from cover letters to interviews to life after graduation in general.

You’ll also want to print some resumes. Like, a lot of them. If you have a professional-looking portfolio or folder, you can use that and/or a purse or satchel to carry them. You’ll want at least one resume for each of your favorites, and a few more in case another employer catches your eye.

Know your worth – and how to say it fast.

Unless you come by at a slow time, you won’t want to monopolize recruiters. That means you only have a few minutes to make a good impression. An “elevator pitch” is a one-minute speech that tells employers who you are. These pitches usually include your name, major and future career plans. If you do it right, they loop back to the recruiter’s company.

Have a way to keep in touch.

If you go on to apply or interview for a job at an employer’s company after the job fair, you’ll want to remember who you talked to. Ask for a business card – it’ll usually have the recruiter’s name and specific contact information. If you end up writing a cover letter or following up, you’ll want to name-drop.

One more thing!

The networking doesn’t end with the career fair. The next day, type up some thank-you notes to email to your favorite potential employers. A good thank-you note isn’t generic; it mentions something that the two of you talked about. It tells the employer you’re actually interested – but more importantly, it helps them remember you. At the end of the day, they have a tall stack of resumes.

According to Nerd Wallet, a thank-you note can reinforce a good first impression.

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