By: Amanda Azzarelli

Attending a career fair is the perfect way to start your job search. It gives you the opportunity to interact face-to-face with professionals who are looking to hire someone like you. A networking event with hundreds of employers all gathered in one place can be a little overwhelming, so I have complied some tips to help you prepare to showcase your best self.

Attend prep workshops. Many universities host workshops to help students prepare for job and internship fairs. You can also schedule mock interviews and have your resume reviewed leading up to the event.  Check with your university’s career center to see what services are offered!

Research the companies. Look at the list of companies attending the fair and identify which ones align with your career goals. Prepare specific questions for each company you plan to speak with to show them you are genuinely interested in working for them. If an additional company catches your eye the day of the fair, take a moment to step aside and do a quick Google search on your phone to gather some background information before speaking to them.

Tailor your résumé. A job fair is a great opportunity to expand your focus and consider some alternative career paths. Take the time to look into different fields, and adjust your résumé to emphasize your most relevant skills and experiences.

Prepare your elevator pitch. You are going to have limited time to make an impression on each professional you speak with. Practice your elevator pitch to neatly wrap up all of your talking points up and quickly sell yourself to employers.

Dress professionally. Most job and internship fairs require professional attire. A good rule of thumb is to wear something you would wear to a job interview. Even if you are just stopping by the fair in between classes, you should ditch your jeans for some dress pants.

Smile. After all of your preparation, you are ready to rock the job fair! Push past your nerves and showcase your confidence to leave a lasting impression on the employers you meet.

Follow up. Be sure to collect business cards from the professionals you speak with. Later that day, send emails to thank them for their time. Following up shows that you are interested and serious, and this is a great way to differentiate yourself from other students they meet.

Upcoming local job fairs:

Cleveland Cavaliers Career Fair

Monday, February 22, 2:00-4:00 at the Q

University of Akron Internship Fair and Career Fair

Wednesday, February 24, 9:30-2:00 in the Student Union Ballrooms

 Kent State Spring Job and Internship Fair

Thursday, February 25, 12:00-4:00 in the Student Center Ballroom

Cleveland East Career Fair

Tuesday, April 5, 11:00 AM at the DoubleTree by Hilton Cleveland East Beachwood

What do you do to stand out from the crowd?  What makes a candidate stand out to you?