Conquer Your Career Fair: Essential Preparation Tips for Recent Grads


Preparing for career fairs can be stressful, especially for recent graduates with limited experience networking and applying for jobs. Here at AIFP, we are proud to count among the many great companies hiring recent grads! We want to help you stand out from the crowd. We frequent career fairs at the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and Portland State University. This blog post provides essential career fair preparation tips to help you make a lasting impression on potential employers.

Know Yourself, But Be Open to New Adventures!

It is always important to have preferences and know what kind of job you are after. However, keep an open mind to not miss out on opportunities that could be just as great! Before the fair, take some time to think about your interests, skills, and what kind of career gets you excited. This self-reflection will not only boost your confidence when chatting with employers, but it can also help you discover positions you might not have considered before.

Research, Research, Research (Preparation is Key!)

You may be asking yourself: what should I research before a career fair? Well, one of the best ways to get ready for your college’s career fair is to research the companies attending beforehand. The attendee list is usually on your college’s career center website or the fair’s official website.

Knowing the company’s background, what they do, and any recent news demonstrates that you’ve done your homework and are genuinely interested in the corporation(s) in question. Plus, it sparks more interesting conversations than generic small talk. Create memories!

Come Armed with Questions

What questions should you ask at a career fair? The sky may seem like the limit and that can easily feel overwhelming. To make the most of your time (and the recruiter’s time!), prepare a list of questions beforehand. Having thoughtful questions shows you’re engaged and proactive. Don’t be afraid to ask spontaneous questions too; a natural conversation is key! Here are some starter options to get you going:

  • What are the biggest challenges and perks of this role?
    • This is to see if it aligns with your interests.
  • Can you walk me through a typical day in this position?
    • This is to get a realistic idea of the day-to-day.
  • What growth and development opportunities does this company offer?
    • This shows you are looking for a long-term fit.

Polish Up Your Resume & LinkedIn Profile

Before the fair, make sure your resume is up-to-date and highlights your most relevant skills and experiences. Print plenty of copies (around 10-20) to hand out to interested recruiters.

Don’t Forget Your LinkedIn Profile! In today’s digital world, many companies use LinkedIn to find and connect with potential candidates. Make sure your profile is complete, professional, and showcases your skills and accomplishments. Connect with the companies you’re interested in attending the fair and join relevant industry groups to boost your online presence.

Dress to Impress

First impressions matter! But ditch the stuffy suit. Dress professionally (think business casual) in clean, wrinkle-free clothes that show you take your job search seriously.

We know student life can be tough on the wallet. Here are some tips for putting together a professional outfit without breaking the bank:

  • Shop your closet: A dark wash pair of jeans, a nice blouse or button-down shirt, and a sweater or blazer can create a polished look.
  • Thrift stores: Unearth hidden gems at thrift stores and score professional clothing at a fraction of the price.
  • Career center resources: Some career centers offer resources for students who need help with professional attire.

Amp Yourself Up!

No one believes in you like you do! Just remember that career fairs are a chance for you to not only present yourself to potential employers but also a chance for you to research and gather intel on potential companies you may want to work for. The job discovery journey is a two-way street – you are interviewing the employers as much as they are curious about your qualifications.

This is an opportunity to make conversation, so keep it natural and just enjoy getting to meet new people and learn new things.

Check out more of AIFP’s blog for tips and tricks about entering the professional world and check out our paid internship opportunities!

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