Career Fair Advice

Career Fairs. Face-to-face contact with employers. In the weeks following the career fair, over 1500 on-campus interviews will be conducted. Image shows student talking to recruiters at the career fair.

Click on the videos above to find out the 5 best practices for the career fair

Face-to-face contact with employers is crucial in the employment process, and career fairs provide great opportunities to connect with numerous hiring managers in a short period of time.  Employers like career fairs for exactly the same reason; the events give them an opportunity to quickly connect with many candidates.  85% of employers say that career fairs play a significant role in their college recruiting process.

The College of Engineering is proud to host two of the premier career fairs in the country each year.  The fall career fair and the spring career fair mark the beginning of the primary hiring season each semester.  All engineering students should participate in these valuable recruiting events. Students who are not actively seeking employment should use these events to investigate employers hiring their major and expand their knowledge of engineering.  It is never too early to start networking and looking for professional employment; many employers are looking to hire students into internships as early as the summer following freshman year.

Career Fair Goals

For those actively seeking employment, the primary goal of the fair is to get invited to one or more interviews.  You basically have five minutes to make a great impression that will lead to an interview where you can more fully present your qualifications.  You want to stand out in positive ways when recruiters review all of the people they met during the event.

The goal is to get an interview

For everyone attending the fair (seeking or not), goals should include:

  • Learning more about the employers and identifying those that align with interests.
  • Improving networking skills by engaging with a number of recruiters.  When not busy, employers are very willing to help students develop job search skills.
  • Making great impressions and starting/strengthening professional relationships with employers of interest.
Preparation is the key to a successful outcome at the fair!
Preparing for the Fair
Preparing for the career fair should begin at least two weeks before the fair.  Some preparation is absolutely essential and the likelihood of having a successful day increases with the amount of preparation.  Prepare by following these steps:

  1. Review and revise your resume.  Many good students struggle to secure interviews because they are passing out poor resumes that do not effectively present their qualifications.   Attend a resume presentation offered by Engineering Career Services and follow the advice offered in the resume preparation section of this guide.  Have plenty of copies of your high-quality resume ready to distribute.
  2. Research employers using CyHire and the Career Fairs section of the MyState app.
    • Start by identifying the employers that will be recruiting your major and offering the type of position (full-time or internship) you are seeking.
    • Gather and evaluate enough information on each of these employers to determine whether you would consider working for them.  Consider the type of position being offered, location, industry, products, company culture, etc.  Do not base your decision simply on name recognition.  Some of the lesser known employers hire more at ISU than the well-branded employers.  Similarly, give both large and small employers due consideration since they each have their particular set of advantages.
      Smaller employers often get less attention 
      so the probability of getting an interview is greater!
    • Conduct additional research on the employers you are still considering:
      • Determine if you are qualified to interview for their position(s).
      • Rank your level of interest (high, medium, or low) in each employer/position and determine which ones you will have time to visit at the fair.
      • Identify a few pieces of information about the employer and/or the positions that are of particular interest to you or generate a question that the recruiter might be able to answer.  This will give you something to talk about and indicate to the recruiter that you are truly interested in their employment opportunities.
  3. Attend information sessions to learn more about employers.  These sessions generally involve an employer presentation, time to ask questions, and a networking opportunity.  Attending these events prior to the career fair will give you additional talking points when you visit their booth.  Recruiters may even remember you from the event and appreciate your vested interest in their company. Information sessions are listed in the “Events” section of CyHire.
  4. Preregister and get your name badge.  Preregistering for the fair is easy and will allow you to maximize your time on the day of the fair.  Preregistered students are able to go directly into the venue to talk with employers.  If you do not preregister, you will need to wait in the registration line to get your name badge. Preregistration will take place during the four weeks prior to the career fair in the ECS office (3200 Marston Hall)
  5. Ready your outfit.  Make sure the conservative and professional outfit you will be wearing to the fair is clean and wrinkle-free.  More on looking your best.
  6. Make arrangements to attend as much of the career fair as possible.   You can come and go from the fair, but maximizing your time there will maximize your opportunities.
  7. Understand how you will be evaluated. Many employers have recruiters fill out an evaluation form for each interviewee to make the recruiting process more objective.  These evaluations usually cover the following:
    • Basic qualifications
    • Match of interest to position
    • Leadership potential
    • Professionalism/Manners
    • Confidence
    • Personal appearance
  8. Polish your “Elevator Speech.”   This is the short pitch that you begin with as you approach a recruiter to introduce yourself, indicate the type of position you are seeking, and present your qualifications.  It should be well rehearsed.  See the Elevator Speech Section for guidance on preparing your speech.
  9. Organize your maps and information for the career fair.  Use the Events section of your CyHire account or the Career Fairs section of the MyState app to see a complete list of employers including majors and types of positions they are hiring for.
  10. Get a good night’s rest before the fair.  It is important to be well rested so that your energy level stays high and you can be enthusiastic and engaged.
Strategies for Career Fair Day
If you have prepared well, the day of the fair will be interesting and enjoyable, as well as beneficial. The fair starts at Noon and closes at 6:00pm.  Typically there will be over 480 employer booths located on the floor and concourse of Hilton and throughout the Scheman Building.  It is in your best interest to explore both buildings.

The following list of things should be done the day of the fair:

  • View logistical information about the career fair including date, time, transportation, and more.
  • Gather your supplies.  Try to minimize what you take to the fair, but you will need: 1) your name badge if you preregistered, 2) at least 10 copies of your resume – depending on how many employers you plan to speak to, 3) the notes you prepared on your target employers, 4) a padfolio to carry your papers and write notes, 5) your university ID to register (if you did not preregister).
  • Register and get a name badge (unless you preregistered).   Go straight to the ground floor of Scheman to register.  If you preregistered, skip this step.
  • Put on your name badge.  Put your name badge, with its corresponding colored dot for your major, on your right shoulder so it will be clearly visible when you shake hands.
  • Engage with employers.  Start visiting your target employers.  You may want to start with some of your lower-rated companies to practice before engaging with your top-ranked companies. When you engage:
    • Show initiative and confidence. Walk up to the recruiter, exchange a firm handshake and introduce yourself with your elevator speech. Demonstrate your interest in the company and their job opportunities.
    • Be enthusiastic.  Show enthusiasm and demonstrate a passion for the type of work being offered.  These are often cited by employers as traits that help a candidate get noticed.
    • Ask questions.  If you have a question about the company or position that the recruiter might be able to answer, ask it.  Not only is this an opportunity to get your question answered, but it also demonstrates that you are not afraid to ask questions.  Make sure the question isn’t one that could have easily been answered if you had done ten minutes of research on the company.  Also, this is not the time to get all your questions answered.
    • Collect business cards. Collect business cards or write down the recruiter’s name when you walk away, so you will have the contact information needed if you want to follow up in some way. Business cards from most recruiters attending the career fair are also available in the Engineering Career Services office (3200 Marston Hall) after the career fair.
    • Take notes.  Writing a few notes in your padfolio or on the back of the recruiter’s business card will help you remember what you learned during your short conversation.
    • Inquire about the possibility of an interview.  As your conversation with a recruiter winds down, express an interest in an interview where you can more fully present your qualifications.
    • Say thank you. End your conversation by thanking the recruiter for taking the time to speak with you.
  • Explore the fair.   Explore the fair to learn more about the companies attending and look for additional opportunities for engagement.  Look for employers hiring your major, especially those that have circled you major on their booth sign.  If a recruiter is available, talk to them.  You may learn something important, improve your networking skills and add interest to the recruiter’s day.
  • Network for the future.  Many recruiters return to the career fair year after year and the more familiar you are to them, the more likely they are to select you for a position.  Even if you are not actively seeking a position with an employer, a little relationship building now may result in a future job.  Employers come to the fair looking to connect with students– take advantage of the opportunity to talk to them!


The Employment Process Menu


Step 1: Understanding Employers and the College Recruiting Process

    -Maintain a Positive Attitude

Step 2: Determine Career Goals and Skillset

Step 3: Identify Preliminary Target Employers and Industries

Step 4: Develop Effective Marketing Materials

Step 5: Search for Specific Employment and Research Target Companies