Do's and Don'ts of Career Fairs

Career fairs can be a stressful event for many students, especially if it’s your first time. They can keep you up at night or make you switch your business professional outfit five times because nothing looks right. For all those anxious students, hopefully these “Do’s and Don’ts” will put your mind at ease and your newfound confidence will make your career fair experience successful.


Prepare and have a game plan.

Practice your 30-second elevator pitch, look up the companies attending and figure out which ones you want to visit most. Typically, it’s good to have a list of 4-6 companies to talk to. Research those companies that interest you so you know what the company does and what they’re doing currently in the industry. Also, read over the job position description so you know what you’d be doing for them. If there’s an option to apply online, do it. Then, come up with a list of questions that are relevant and appropriate. Lastly, print out as many resumes as companies you’re planning on seeing, and then print out two more just in case. Bring a resume folder into the career fair holding your resumes, extra paper and a pen.

Dress to impress.

This is the first time you’ll be meeting recruiters so obviously you want them to like you. If you’re a guy, wear a tie and iron your suit. Don’t be that guy who wears wrinkly suit with a brown belt and black shoes. For the ladies, I urge you to wear a flat shoe or a shoe with a small heel. If you walk into a career fair with 6 inch heels, not only are you going to feel in pain but you’re going to look like it too.

Be confident.

Recruiters have been shaking sweaty and weak hands all day. Make sure yours is dry and your shake is strong. Look them in the eye when you say your full name and smile. Show them that you’re personable and assertive, they’re looking for that. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for their contact information; they’ll be more than happy to give you their email or business card.


Be Improper.

The way you talk with your friends and the way you speak with a recruiter should be way different. When you’re talking with a recruiter, stand up straight and don’t fidget or sway side to side. Don’t chew gum or eat a blue lollipop that leaves your tongue blue. Make sure you don’t use slang or watch how many times you say words like “um” or “like”. Lastly, don’t interrupt the recruiter. Be patient and calm not crude and inapt.

Be Negative.

Nobody wants to work for someone who’s pessimistic. Don’t negatively about anyone or anything. That includes previous employers you’ve had or people you’ve worked with in the past. If the recruiter asks you why you left a job, say something other than “I hated my boss.” Try, “I wanted to pursue other interests to further my career.”

Ask irrelevant or inappropriate questions.

There’s a time to ask a recruiter questions about the perks of the job. Don’t ask about the salary, vacation days or sick leave. Those shouldn’t be priority questions at a career fair. Also, don’t ask the recruiter what their company does or ask them to explain the job position to you if it’s not already on their website. You should have done your research and asking those questions won’t make you look good.

Feel Overwhelmed.

While at a career fair, especially one at the BJC at Penn State, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. There are a bunch of students dressed just like you and trying to get the same job as you so feeling nervous is completely understandable. However, don’t let you fear get the best of you. Give yourself the internal pep talk and walk into the building with confidence. Stay focused and breathe and you’ll be just fine.