Tips from the Bloch Career Center: How to Be Successful at the Career Fairs

We have a variety of career fairs this fall to help connect students interested in internships and full-time opportunities with hiring employers! If this is your first time going to a career fair, below are our best tips for having a great experience.

What to Expect at the Virtual Career Fairs

If you plan to attend a virtual career fair this spring, know that all communication for the event will be through Handshake, which means that you’ll register for the career fair, sign up for employer sessions, and meet with employers through the Handshake platform.

Signing up is a quick, TWO STEP process: First, click on the  “Register” button on the fair information page. Second, sign up for a time slot. Students can sign up for 30 minute group sessions or 10 minute individual sessions with each employer, and must sign up for a session to meet with an employer. Make sure to follow employers that interest you and check back regularly to ensure that you don’t miss a time slot! Having specific time slots to meet with employers is really great for students – it can help you save time and customize your career fair experience!

What to Expect at the In-Person Career Fair

The in-person fair will be held at Swinney Recreation Center. Each company will have their own booth, and students will be directed to check in for the fair on the main floor before visiting with employers. When you check in, you’ll receive a nametag and be instructed to start connecting with companies. Each company will most likely have 1-2 company representatives at each table, and masks and socially distancing will be encouraged. Since 100+ students and 75+ employers are expected to attend the event, we encourage students to leave bulky items at home or in our student lounge, which will be set up to allow students a space to relax and prepare before going into the fair.

How to be Successful at the Career Fairs

  • Take time to make sure that your resume, Handshake profile, and LinkedIn profile are all updated and ready to be shared with companies! Your complete and updated Handshake profile is especially important for the virtual fairs, as it will be one of the first things that an employer sees.
  • For the in-person fairs, plan to bring physical copies of your resume, a notepad, a pen, and a padfolio or tote bag to carry your items as well as promotional items you might receive from companies.
  • Target 3-5 companies that you know you’d like to speak to at the fair, and do research on their products and services (more below!)
  • Be ready to talk about you! Practice how to introduce yourself (check out some tips below), and come ready with questions to ask the company representatives (more below!)
  • All of our career fairs are professional attire encouraged, which means suit jackets, blazers, dress pants and tops, ties, and dresses or skirts in neutral colors like navy, gray, black, or white.
  • Don’t forget to follow-up! Make sure to collect contact information and send a personalized thank you note through email to anyone you meet at the career fairs. We hear often from recruiters that the students who express gratitude often stand out from other candidates! Feel free to also connect with anyone you meet on LinkedIn.

Researching Companies – What Do Recruiters Expect?

Recruiters and company representatives who attend our career fairs expect that UMKC students know a little about their company before talking with them. Use resources like Handshake, Google, company websites, and to research companies! Prior to the career fair, make sure to know the below information about your top companies:

  • What skills and experiences do the companies value?
  • Who are the key players of the organization?
  • What is the company’s latest news and events?
  • What are the company’s culture, mission and values?
  • What are its products, services, clients, and competitors?
  • What do employees say about the company?
  • Where are their headquarters? Do they have offices in locations that appeal to you?
  • What opportunities do they have posted through Handshake or on their company website?

Introducing Yourself Well

While company recruiters are well versed in networking and attending career events, make sure that you are also ready to contribute to the conversation and talk about yourself! Your introduction should include: your name, year in school, degree, major or emphasis, and a little about your career interests or professional goals. Recruiters might also be interested in long term career plans, location preferences, and extracurricular activities. Here are some examples:

Example 1:

“I’m a marketing major and I focused my studies on brand management and data analytics. Last summer I worked as an intern in marketing analytics where I learned a lot about analyzing data to enhance social media marketing campaigns. I feel this experience, combined with my education make me a great fit for the Social Media Marketing position here at Acme, Inc. ”

Example 2: 

“Hi, I’m Tess and I’m a junior studying Marketing. I’m interested in brand management, but I just took a class in data analytics and I am really interested in how marketing and data go together. I saw that you have an internship in Marketing Analytics that sounds interesting. Can you tell me more about it?”

Asking Good Questions

While your elevator pitch is important, it’s also important to have questions to ask the recruiter! Here are some examples:

  • What would a typical day look like?
  • How would you describe the culture here?
  • Can you tell me more about opportunities within (major, emphasis, function)?
  • What are the skills and experiences you are looking for in an ideal candidate?
  • How long have you been with the company? What do you like about the company?
  • What are the next steps in the recruiting process?
  • Where do you see the company five years from now?
  • Is there anything else I can provide you that would be helpful?

Hopefully these tips help you feel more confident at career fairs and future networking events. For additional help, don’t hesitate to set up an appointment with a career coach in the Bloch Career Center through Handshake. We can answer questions related to resumes, internship and job searches, interviewing, networking, and many more professional development topics. Ashley Nance, Professional Development Manager, can also be reached about questions:

By Ashley Nance
Ashley Nance Professional Development Manager