Career fairs can be an incredible opportunity for job seeking, networking, and finding out more about an industry. They are a great space to meet and connect with representatives from key companies you would like to work at. But, it’s the steps after the career fair that can really make the difference in your career. Making the most out of meeting and connecting with those company representatives is the difference between landing your dream job, or missing out.
After you’ve been to the career fair, here are a few actions you can take to get the most out of your experience.
By the end of a career fair, you may be overwhelmed by the number of business cards you have to deal with. Having an effective process can help you manage your newly acquired cards with recruiters and representatives.
Now is the time to get those business cards organized. Review each one and put the information onto a spreadsheet or a business card management app. List out their name, position, contact email, company, and industry. If you have notes from your conversations, write down the relevant information for each company representative.
Are there any companies that you would like to focus on? Make notes on the company business cards so you can reference your meeting with the company representative in your follow-up correspondence. The representatives meet many people throughout the career fair, so reminding them of your meeting can help jog their memories.
Before you start following up with your new contacts, you will need an updated resume and Linkedin profile. Nowadays, it’s common for people to do some due diligence before they respond to messages from people they meet at career fairs. Therefore, you’ll want your profile to be ready and presentable as if you were going into an interview - you just might get one!
Career fairs can be a helpful source of inspiration when improving your resume. Did you receive any resume critiques or helpful advice? Integrate that into your resume. You can also reflect on what the representatives from the desired companies talked about. If a company you wanted to apply for talked about how important to them experience in a particular industry was, then adjust your resume to highlight your experience in that field. The same can be said if they focused on their company values or desired skillsets of applicants. Listen carefully to what the company representatives say to make your resume and professional profile fit what they’re looking for in a job candidate.
Career fairs are wonderful opportunities for you to meet with the company representatives before submitting the job application.
Go through the business cards and the spreadsheet you made and send a follow-up email with each of the contacts. Linkedin is also a great tool to use if you don’t have their business card but remember their name and company. Connect with them on Linkedin with a personalized message.
Your follow-up email to the company sets the tone for the conversation. Be sure to thank the representative for their time and introducing their company at the career fair. Include any significant conversation topics you had; this will help them remember you and give you a good opener for your follow-up email. This is important as with so many people meeting the company representative, it’s very easy to get lost in the crowd. Bring yourself back into the forefront of their mind. That way, they can recall who you are and feel more of a personal connection when reviewing your job application.
After following up with the connections, you will want to keep and maintain these professional connections for the future. If a desired company you would like to work for isn’t currently hiring, be sure to keep in touch with the company representatives. Make it personal - send an email during holidays, or forward relevant articles to them to show that you are keeping them in mind.
Maintaining the connection can lead to other opportunities; perhaps the company representative knows of another relevant job posting in a partner organization. They may even be able to give you a referral for the job posting. Either way, you have nothing to lose by maintaining the connection. You never know what kind of opportunities in the future can come from keeping the contact alive.
Whether it’s for your own professional development or the purpose of attending another event in the future, you should reflect on your experience from the career fair and how you might improve for next time. Ask yourself these questions:
- How well-prepared were you?
- How was your elevator pitch received? Did you get any tips on improving it?
- Did a recruiter’s questions catch you off-guard?
- What would you do differently next time?
- Did employers give you any suggestions or advice for the field you’re looking into?
Think about these questions and take notes on where you need to work on, so that when the next career fair comes you are better prepared. Furthermore, by improving your presentation and elevator pitch, you can be more effective in selling yourself in other situations such as networking events, and help progress your career further.
By following these steps, you can take advantage of the contacts you have made and create the best possible impression of yourself for company representatives and recruiters. With the right processes, a career fair can get you one step closer to your dream job.