PREPARE FOR PROFESSIONAL EVENTS
Managing Your Expectations:
You are responsible for making the most of any networking event including career fairs. This means that you should begin with clearly defined and realistic expectations. At career fairs, you will not receive a job offer but you may leave with a scheduled interview. At other events, you will have the opportunity to make a significant number of contacts that can lead to legitimate career prospects.
For most candidates, success will depend on effective follow-up after the fair and of course
Prepare for the Fair:
Most events will have a website with more information. Career fairs and other networking events, such as conferences, may have a list of registered attendees. If so, scan for organizations that interest you or employ people with your background. Spend time researching them ahead of time using LinkedIn and other tools listed under Research Organizations.
- Write and print several copies of your resume, highlighting skills and experiences related to your career goal. Don’t have one? Refer to the Resume and Cover Letter Writing section.
- Pull together a professional outfit, preferably a business suit. Want to learn more? Refer to Your Career
At the Event:
- Wear a legible, easy-to-read nametag.
- Make an intentional effort to meet people and organizations you researched in advance.
- Offer your hand for a professional handshake.
- Be prepared to make small talk.
- If appropriate, share your elevator pitch with those within your career field or in a position to assist.
- Ask for a business card from those with whom you wish to follow up.
If you’re at a career fair, you may:
- Begin the conversation with your elevator pitch.
- Ask the employer a question or two relating to your career goal.
- Ask the employer for next steps. The employer may be scheduled to interview on campus through
Marquette University Career Services Center.
Things to Bring
- Your elevator pitch to introduce yourself, highlight your qualifications and why you are interested in
the position and/or company
- Copies of your business cards and resume (25-50 depending on size of event and number of employers
you’d like to talk to)
- A professional hardcover notepad portfolio and/or briefcase for resumes, company information, business
cards and notes
- A smile, strong handshake and positive attitude
- Energy! (Be your best and as refreshed as possible.)
After the Fair:
- Follow up with those employers who piqued your interest
- Send an e-mail or hand-written letter thanking them for their time and including a copy of your resume
- Search for postings and on-campus interviews on MU Career Manager
Things to Bring:
- Your 60 second commercial to introduce yourself, highlight your qualifications and why you are interested in the position and/or company
- Information about the organizations that you will be approaching
- Copies of your resume (25-50 depending on size of event and number of employers you’d like to talk to)
- A professional hardcover notepad portfolio and/or briefcase for resumes, company information, business cards and notes
- A smile, strong handshake and positive attitude
- Energy! Be your best and as refreshed as possible
EMPLOYER EXPECTATIONS AT CAREER FAIRS
Some employers are only collecting resumes; some may not be able to accept any resumes and may ask you to submit application materials online. Some are building/assessing an applicant pool; some are ready to fill specific vacancies. Some will expect you to express your interest by already knowing about their organization; some will view this day as a career fair/information gathering process. Most employers will expect you to follow up if you are interested. All employers expect you to be professional, willing to initiate conversation and able to highlight your strengths.
QUESTIONS TO ASK AT CAREER FAIRS
First and foremost, questions should be natural. Be yourself. Don't rifle through your questions; maintain a flow
- What kind of entry-level positions exist within your company?
- Do you offer internships?
- If so, what percentage of interns are offered positions after graduation?
- What does your company consider the 5 most important qualities in an employee?
- What courses do you suggest in order to be a successful candidate?
- What personality traits are important to be successful at your company?
- What made you chose this company?
- How long have you been with the company?
- What goals does your company have for the next years and beyond?
- Does your company hire on a continual basis or just at certain times of the year?
- How long is the hiring process for an individual hire?
- How many employees does your company have?
- Are graduate degrees important? If so, in what areas?
- Is there a G.P.A. cut off for your new hires?
- What things have your company accomplished of which you are especially proud?
- For how many years does the entry-level employee typically stay with the company?
- What is the retention rate in the company?
- Do you expect your employees to relocate?
- What are the next steps in the hiring process?
LEARN HOW TO FOLLOW UP WITH NEW PROFESSIONAL CONNECTIONS
After the Event:
- Follow up with those professionals who peaked your interest.
- Connect with them on LinkedIn.
- Send an e-mail or hand-written note thanking them for their time and include a copy of your resume.
The Thank You:
- Thank You Emails: Send immediately following the interview (within 24 hours) to all those with whom you met.
- Thank You Note/Letter: Drop in mail within two days; send to all those with whom you met.
- Phone Call Follow Up: In your interview you should have asked what the timeline was for making a decision. You are free to call once a few days AFTER the decision-making date. Call the hiring manager in charge of your interview.
Read the Navigating a Career Fair handout (PDF) (Word) for additional information on this topic.
This sales pitch will arm you with all you need to begin an intelligent and effective conversation with new
- Where you are now (degree, program, year in college)
- Where you have been (career-related experience, leadership experience, part-time work experience)
- Where you are going (future goals)
If you're at a career fair, you may add:
- What you know about the organization and how you are a good fit
- End with a question to start the conversation
"Hello. I'm Dot and I will graduate in 20XX with my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication. As a student here at Marquette, I have had the chance to gain leadership and organizational skills through my involvement in the ABC Club. In addition, I have worked for two years as a server at the Annex allowing me to gain valuable customer service experience. I am seeking an internship in the field of public relations for next summer. Can you share with me any opportunities within your organization that might fit with my skills and experience?"