Interestingly, I think a career fair is the only opportunity where roles are reversed and the employers become the interviewee(s) and students and job seekers becomes the interviewers. You get to make employers feel as if they are the ones in an interview. Why? They have to bring relevant material and make insightful presentations in order to make you want to work in their company or organization. Sadly, most university students do not take advantage of such opportunities. However here is why you should attend any such opportunities.
This is where you get to know and identify what employers want. It is important that you do your research on the employer(s) so that your questions are relevant and quite hopefully land you a job after school. Employers may also use the opportunity to find hires that they usually do not advertise for. They know that job fairs can be the best way of actually meeting potential hires. At a career fair, students have the advantage of getting an organization’s direct human resources and hiring manager contact information. And even if you do not get hired during a job fair, you get to meet like-minded job seekers and in the process you get to learn about employment opportunities that you may not have heard about before.
Sometimes, until you are actually looking for a job, attending a career fair can be a clueless affair where you attend a session, listen to what is presented to you/ visit various stands and still come out of it ‘empty-handed’. Here is another way to approach a career fair to make the most out of it: Find out which companies or organizations are going to be in attendance and find out the history, goals and management styles. You can also bring a completed application or your portfolio incase an opportunity comes knocking and finally you can write down questions you plan to ask. Some important questions to ask during an exchange can include:
- What is your interview process like?
- What skills and experience do you look for in the employees you hire?
- Are graduate degrees important to advancing within your organization? Which ones?
While at it, you can also find out the salary ranges that employers are willing to pay for popular jobs.
One last thing. As much as the roles are reversed and you might have the upper hand over the employers, remember that a career fair is a two way affair and these companies and organizations are also evaluating you. Be professional in the way you talk, interact and dress. Now you have a reason to attend a career fair near you.