There are several ways in which students can successfully prepare for the GRCC Job Fair. For more information, look below.
Research the Companies and the Positions that are Available
It is essential that you research information about the companies you are interested in and their open positions before attending the job fair. Not only does this make it easier for you to create conversation with the recruiter, but also helps you to tailor your résumé and cover letter to appeal specifically to that organization. Doing research also demonstrates impressive qualities to the recruiter as it shows that you are thorough and willing to put time and effort into achieving your goals. You can conduct research the following ways:
Research what specific positions each company is hiring for. Specific instructions for viewing job fair openings will be posted once a job fair has been scheduled.
- Research each company at their website by reading their mission statement and other informational pages.
- Search for the company on various news websites, such as Google News, to see if any recent events have occurred that you could discuss with the recruiter.
Prepare an Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is a short introduction used to explain who you are, what qualifications you have, and what type of opportunity you are looking for. The pitch is to last anywhere between 30 – 60 seconds as that is the amount of time you would have to introduce yourself to someone during an elevator ride. It is important to prepare your introduction ahead of time so you don’t stumble when it’s time to talk with a recruiter!
- Use the Elevator Pitch Handout at the top, right of this page for more information about elevator pitches and instructions on how to write your own.
Make a Map
When you arrive to the job fair you will be provided with a map showing where each employer booth is stationed. Use your prepared list of employers and positions you are interested in order to map out your route through the fair.
- Just a tip: If possible, start with the employer you are least interested in. Chances are that you will be nervous towards the beginning of the fair and may stumble through your elevator pitch. If you make a mistake with an employer you aren’t as interested in, you will be less upset. This way, by the time you talk with your favorite employer, you will have plenty of practice and a perfect elevator pitch!
Make Self-Marketing Materials
- Update your Résumé: A résumé is a brief, yet explicit, outline of the education background, employment experience, student activities, and professional accomplishments and qualifications pertaining to your employment goals. Basically, it is a marketing tool used to help make an impression on an employer.
- Consider tailoring a few résumés to the specific companies you plan on seeing at the job fair. Again, this will show that you prepared ahead of time for the fair and did your research. Bring a few generic copies of your résumé as well in case you talk to companies you didn’t originally plan on! Use the attached worksheets to help perfect your résumé before the fair.
- For detailed information about how to write a résumé and cover letter, please view our Résumé and Cover Letter Advice Guide.
- Create Business Cards: If you have a current job and don’t mind being contacted at your work number or email address, feel free to hand out copies of your business card. You might also consider creating a business card especially for job fairs and networking events. This business card could include:
- Major/Professional Field
- Email Address
- Phone Number
- Website/Blog Link
- LinkedIn Link
- An Objective Statement
- A Statement of Interest
Remember, you never have a second chance to make a first impression and therefore, need to dress for success! A recruiter is much more likely to be impressed by candidate dressed in business casual wear or even better, a suit, than a student in jeans and sweatshirt. While you should make sure to research specifics online, use these suggestions from local Grand Rapids Employers when choosing your outfit:
- “I would recommend professional dress. Business casual is fine. We want applicants to feel comfortable, but show that they made an effort to be more professional than their everyday dress.” –Sunset Retirement Communities and Services
- “I am looking for professional dress. Suit and tie, clean shaven, dress shoes for males. Females are professionally dressed with blouse, slacks, heels/flats and generally put together.” –Northwestern Mutual
- “Business casual, for men: trousers/khakis and a shirt with a collar. For women: trousers/knee-length skirt and a blouse or shirt with a collar.” –Motion Dynamics Corporation
- “A student should dress professionally if looking for an internship, but business casual if just looking for a summer job.” –Grand Rapids Chair Company
Things to Remember
- Network! Ask recruiters for their business cards so that you have their contact information. Use these cards to send follow-up emails requesting informational interviews or to monitor the status of your résumé. Don’t forget to take note of who you gave your résumé to!
- Bring supplies such as extra copies of your résumé, a pad folio or a new folder equipped with paper for note-taking (write down what you talk about with each recruiter so you don’t forget for when you follow up!), pens, and business cards if you have them.
- Memorize your résumé and be prepared to talk about anything listed on it.
- Smile and be enthusiastic! Show recruiters your passion for the field and your positive attitude at the same time. This will help them to remember you and, if you are pleasant, they will probably spend more time talking with you before moving on to the next candidate. Take the initiative to approach them as they will be much too busy to single you out of the crowd.
- Use your manners. Begin the conversation with statements such as “Nice to meet you” as neglecting simple details such as this can be a turn-off for employers. Don’t forget to thank each recruiter for their time in person and again through email, especially if you are serious about pursuing a position with them.
What NOT to Do
- Do not ask recruiters questions about their company that you could easily find out on their website, such as “What do you do?” This shows that you did not do your research and makes you appear unprepared. If you have never heard of a company before, ask other students in line what they know about the company, or make conversation with the recruiter by asking other questions such as, “What first made you want to work for (company name)?” or “What do you feel is your company’s biggest accomplishment in the past year?”
- Do not leave your cellphone volume on. You want to devote your complete attention to the recruiter you are speaking with and your cellphone serves as a distraction. If you use your cellphone during the fair, chances are you will use it while on the job, which is not a trait desired by employers.
- Hide in the masses. Approximately 1,000 students and community members attend the job fair each year, making it easy to blend in. Take the effort to approach employers and introduce yourself as there will be potential candidates fighting for their attention. If you don’t, your chances of getting a job are slim!