Student Success Centre

Preparing for Career Fairs

Career and job fairs are a great way to network with recruiter contacts who can help you gain a better understanding of the transferable skills your degree has given you that can ultimately help you in your career.

Talk to recruiters about workplace trends; the skills, experience and knowledge required to get hired into the industry; and what will set you apart as a potential candidate. Be sure to research organizations in advance so that you are knowledgeable – bring a list of questions to show what you’ve learned about the company, and to find out more.

Be prepared to make a lasting impression on the recruiter so they will remember you when your application comes in!

Job/Career Fair Etiquette 101

What to do before, during, and after to make the fair work for you!

Before the Fair

  • Frequently review the organizations attending on our list of participating organizations as new attendees are continually being added.
  • Visit the participating organizations’ websites to gain an understanding of who they are and what they do. Note any positions currently posted on their website or on CareerCentral and prioritize a list of organizations you would like to target.
  • Develop and practice your “Elevator Pitch” (this is a brief personal introduction where you focus on the skills and competencies gained from your studies, employment and volunteer experience, your interests and career goals). Practice how you will introduce yourself, being mindful of your body language (e.g., eye contact, smile and handshake). See example here
  • Be sure to review “Skills Employers Seek” which will help you identify your skills and competencies.

At the Fair

  • Start by visiting organizations that you have a general interest in as a way to become comfortable with introducing yourself and interacting with the representatives. Then, move on to your first choice recruiters!
  • Greet recruiters with a smile and a firm handshake. Introduce yourself, confidently using your “Elevator Pitch” which clearly identifies your skills and competencies, experience and goals.
  • Take a portfolio folder to hold resumes and organizational literature that you will collect.
  • Listen attentively to the company representatives. They may say something that will generate questions for you, or provide you with an opportunity to highlight additional skills. If you are waiting in line to talk to a representative, listen carefully to what the representative is saying to other students or the questions he/she is asking. This may answer some of your questions and will also help you to prepare for when you are conversing with them.
  • When speaking to company representatives, ask them about trends in their field. Ask for advice on how to prepare for roles in their company. Ask about resources they use to keep current in their field, or other professionals they could refer you to.
  • Gather company literature as this could be very helpful later on. Get the representatives’ business cards - very important! You'll need this for your follow up. If they are not providing business cards make note of the name of the person with whom you spoke (they usually wear a name tag at fairs).
  • Write notes after each contact (e.g. what you talked about; their organizational philosophy, hiring process, contact names, or anything else you observed during your conversation for later reference).
  • Take a portfolio folder to hold resumes and organizational literature that you will collect.
  • Keep a positive attitude - be enthusiastic and keep smiling!

After the Fair

  • Thank you notes/calls - The following day, email or mail a thank you note to the company representatives you are interested in.
  • Make your communication short but powerful.
  • Remind them who you are, in what position(s) you are interested, and what you could contribute to their organization.
  • Request an interview and include a more targeted resume if appropriate.

Other Ways to Prepare

  • Attend a Workshop - Career workshops, such as “Your Elevator Pitch: How to Talk to Employers” or “New to Networking? Learn the Basics!” will help build your confidence. To see the full schedule, visit career workshops
  • Visit WERC (Western's Employment Resource Centre) - A daily drop-in service staffed by Career Profile Advisors trained to provide assistance with your resume, CV, cover letter and LinkedIn profile.
  • Resume Clinic - This two-day event in the UCC atrium offers help with your job search documents.
  • Talk to a Career Counsellor - Get help with issues such as identifying your career options, making career decisions, and implementing effective job search strategies. Learn more.

Remember to check CareerCentral and find out when employers are going to be on campus for: Employer Information Sessions, Panel Discussions, Mock Interviews and many other networking events.