Making the most of a career fair

At a career fair, exchange business cards with everyone you talk to. Yours should 
have your name, e-mail address and phone number — plus your career field. If you 
haven’t graduated yet, give your major and school as well.

To make the most of a job fair, it’s best to prepare in advance.

“Have an agenda,” says Cheretta Robson, assistant director of career development at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights.

Sophia Demetriou, director of the Career Center at City College of New York, agrees: “Find out what companies will be there, and decide which two or three you need to talk to.”

Just dropping off a résumé isn’t going to cut it. “Engage the person behind the table. Ask questions,” instructs Marjorie Apel, director of Manhattan College’s Center for Career Development.

Figuring out those questions in advance will be part of your preparation. But figuring out answers to the questions recruiters typically ask should be as well.

“Why do you want to work at this company?” and “What skills will make you successful here?” are common questions. Apel recommends that you think of specific answers for that company instead of relying on generalities or cliches.

Once you’ve talked to your top targets, don’t just leave. “Go talk to everyone else,” Demetriou urges. “There could be a company you’re not even aware of that could have an even better opportunity.”

After the fair, follow up with an e-mail or letter to everyone you talked to. Thank them for their time, and address any issues that were raised in your conversation. “This shows your persistence and interest,” Robson says.

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