Resources for Before, During and After the Fair
Preparing for a career fair is essential to getting the results you want.
First prepare a strategy that will work for you–even if you are there to explore.
Ask yourself, what do I want to achieve at the fair? What is my goal?
We encourage you to attend the fair for networking in your job and internship search and also, to see what it is like, to learn more about industries, companies, and yourself.
Enjoy the preparation and the experience–and begin with these recommended resources to prepare to engage at the fair, to follow up after the fair and to apply.
Steps and Resources for Preparing:
1) Reflection and Self-Awareness
A better understanding of yourself–by giving serious thought to your motives, values, experiences, and skills–will help you tell your professional story and make it easier to communicate your value to employers.
- Reflect on your skills, interests, experiences, and knowledge.
- Prepare thoughtful employer-specific questions relative to your reflection–see the Create an Introduction and Questions section (4) below.
- Present your best professional self (e.g. wear appropriate attire, avoid strong scents, and offer a firm handshake).
- Carry a pad folio, folder, or organizer for your resume and collecting business cards.
- Update and tailor your resume. [Resume guide (with videos)] [Drop-in Advising] [Career events in CareerConnections]
- Prioritize a list of employers based on your interests.
- Access Duke CareerConnections for up-to-date job/internship postings, information sessions, and career events. [CareerConnections.duke.edu]
- Check the [Company Profiles] section for a list of employers attending and use the filters to learn more.
- [Know Yourself section of our website]
2) Employer Research
You want to know about the companies attending the fair, their open positions, locations, current news, and more so you can prioritize for yourself and prepare for conversations.
Consider all of the additional information that you find important in determining whether an employer’s opportunities would work for you.
3) Relate Your Skills and Experiences to Those Sought by Employers
- From your company research analyze what skills and experiences the employer or industry seeks.
- Write down how you match those qualifications.
- Brainstorm how you will tailor your introduction and which skills or experiences you will choose to discuss with each employer. More on this in the Create an Introduction and Questions section (4) below.
- Consider whether or not your skills align with the employer’s needs.
4) Create an Introduction and Questions
Introduction (30-Second Commercial)
Use this opportunity to introduce yourself and provide a short synopsis of your skills and experience with the goal of getting employers to ask you for more information. Take time to engage an employer in a conversation so you can learn more about the company and show the connection between your skills/experience and the company’s goals.
[Plan your introduction & examples]
Questions for Employers
Ask intentional, relevant questions that show you have done your research. Some examples:
- What qualities have made past candidates successful in this <interesting position>?
- I was able to glean a lot of information about the culture of your organization through your website and from talking to a couple of others who have experience at your company. How have you found the culture to be evident within your team? [Alum/Recruiter]
- I saw on your website that your company is involved in <interesting new initiative>. What impact do you expect that having on your company in the next few years?
- What types of professional development opportunities should I pursue now that would prepare me well for this industry?
Engaging Employers at the Fair
- Be aware of non-verbal communication, e.g. walk confidently with good posture, make good eye contact
- Shake hands with employers (if offered)
- Use your introduction, tailored to employer, to begin conversation; listen carefully
- Smile and show your enthusiasm
- Some employers might ask for your resume
- Ask for a business card from the employer before leaving
- Determine next step in the process
- Say “Thank You” as you conclude conversation
- Jot down notes on conversation for later reference
After the Fair
- Send thank you notes or email employers with whom you had strong rapport and connection (24-48 hours post event)
- Indicate your appreciation for their time/advice and include interesting information from your conversation
- Share steps you may have taken since talking
When You Apply
- Follow the employer’s preferred method for applying to positions. You may be directed to apply through CareerConnections and the company’s website.
- Stay organized. Maintain a document that captures where you have applied, when you submitted your materials, and additional relevant information.
- Pay attention to deadlines.