General Tips for Preparing and Navigating Career Fairs

Before

Research the Organizations

To get an understanding of the employers you find interesting, use the Vault Guide, and “Top Business Guides” available through the JGSM (Management School) Library as well as the organizations’ and other sites. http://www.career.cornell.edu/resources/

Update Your Résumé

Depending on the type of career fair, tailor the résumé to show focus in that industry by highlighting relevant courses and experiences that best showcase transferrable skills.  Bring 15-20 copies with you at the fair, preferably on résumé paper. For more résumé tips: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/career-path/write-resume-or-cover-letter

Prepare Your Elevator Speech/Intro

Consider that you are in the elevator with an employer. You have 1-2 minutes to let them know who you are and what you want.  Include your name, class year, major, career interests, and why you are interested in them.

During

  • Dress:  Professional Attire (Suit) recommended
  • Approaching the Recruiters

Make eye contact, have a firm but not crushing handshake, and introduce yourself using the brief Elevator Speech mentioned above.  Be sure to pause so the exchange is more of a discussion/conversation vs. a monologue.  Listen intently to their response and follow up with some selected questions.  The following are examples of questions you might want to ask.  Use these as a starting point for thinking about what you want to learn about employers.  Be sure to review Handshake and the directory (received at the Career Fair) to help guide your conversation.

  1. What are the entry-level career opportunities for bachelor’s (or master’s) graduates with your organization?  What does your organization look for in new hires?
  2. What kinds of summer experiences do you offer?
  3. What do you like most about working at your organization?
  4. What elective courses would you recommend I take to best prepare myself for the role?
  5. How important is graduate school for advancement in this field?
  6. What training opportunities are there for employees?  Are there opportunities for cross-functional training?  What about opportunities for professional development?
  7. What opportunities are there for interacting with other new hires?  Is there a mentoring program?
  8. How is this organization managing diversity in the workplace?
  9. How often are employees expected to relocate?
  10. How financially stable is the organization?  Have there been layoffs, budget cuts, downsizing?  Have there been any recent mergers or acquisitions affecting your organization?  (Do your research beforehand to know if these questions are applicable.)
  11. How have you handled reduced hiring needs in the current economy?  
  12. How would you describe the culture of the organization?
  13. How do I best follow-up with you?

After

Make sure you follow up

Be sure to send an email to the recruiter(s) expressing your interest in the position and how your background and skills will contribute to their organization. Try to personalize each email by referring to a key point that might have been unique to you.