Career fairs are an excellent opportunity to put yourself forward for a dream role in your chosen industry. So how do you ace these events and leave a big impression on the recruiters?
As Head of Career Services at the international hospitality school Les Roches, Stephanie Ruiz has guided thousands of students through the flagship career fair on campus each semester. She offered these tips on how to make the career fair work for you.
1. Think About Yourself
The career fair is all about you. The key to success is to aim for a role you think you will love and where you believe you can do a good job. So, once you’ve chosen a position you want to secure, think about the responsibilities and the reality of the workplace you’ll be in. What skills will you need to do this job well? Getting all this straight beforehand will help you make the best impression on the day.
2. Prepare – and Practice – Your Pitch
Now that you have recognized your strengths and passions, prepare a short paragraph on why you think you would be the right person for the job. It's what you'll often hear described as your "elevator pitch." Focus only on the positives. You should analyze it from the recruiter's perspective: what do they want to hear? What is relevant for this job? Once you've prepared, practice in front of a mirror and with your friends.
3. Make a Plan
Try and get an idea in advance of which companies are coming to your fair. From this, you can decide the ones you most want to talk to, then make a plan of approach. It often pays to ‘warm up’ by talking to a couple of companies you are interested in but which are not your top priority. It’s a good way of refining your pitch before you visit the recruiters you really want to impress.
4. Make that CV Sing
Decide what information will be relevant to the recruiter hiring for the job you want, then make sure that this – and all the relevant keywords – are included on your CV or resume. Since there will be a variety of companies attending the fair, you have a couple of different options:
- Carry a more modern and a more classical version of your CV, so you can offer something that fits more closely with the company brand.
- Go for a single, clean-cut CV. Well organized and aligned, white background, black text.
Make sure to bring a folder/portfolio so you can carry printed CVs in an organized manner. And always bring a few extra copies of your CV. Ideally, you want to print those a few days before the event.
5. Do Your Research
If you’re interested in an organization, prove it to them. You should be able to easily explain their business, who their clients are, which values they share with employees, what the work environment is like, who their competitors are, where the company is based, what their latest news is, and so on. To answer all these questions, check out not only their career site but also their LinkedIn, Glassdoor, etc. You can even prepare questions you wish to ask each company.
6. First Impressions Matter
When you meet a recruiter, smile, then go ahead and greet them! Don't be shy; the companies are there because they want to talk to you. Reach out for the handshake or fist bump (after Covid, that works too if you are more comfortable). Recruiters will talk with so many people on the day; all they will be left with is the feeling from your interaction. So, relax, be yourself and engage with the companies. The first time it might be awkward, but the more you do it, the better you will get at it.
7. Make Notes After Each Conversation
Career fairs are a whirl of conversations; rest assured, a few minutes after leaving the hall you won’t remember who said what! So carry a notebook and pen with you, to write down the name of the recruiter plus a few brief notes on what you discussed and what the next steps will be.
8. Do Your Follow-up
After the fair, connect with the people you spoke to on LinkedIn and send a short note to thank them for their time and interest. If you can relate (briefly) to anything valuable you discussed, do so!
Good luck, and go get that dream job!
To learn more about Les Roches and careers in hospitality, visit the website.