7 tips for surviving job-fair madness

Students gathered at the UIC Career Fair

With graduation coming up, it’s time to focus on landing a job.

Career fairs can be a miserable experience for some job seekers. Facing a large, noisy room full of hiring managers who may determine your future can make anyone nervous.

Here are some tips from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Office of Career Services to help you survive and advance your professional career.

  • Research companies. Look up the company and do preliminary research on organizations.
  • Think ahead. A good step is to plan out questions you would like to ask each company in advance. Listen carefully and give concise answers.
  • Plan and prepare.  Make plenty of copies of your resume on a higher-quality paper. Map out a strategy of the types of jobs you want to target.
  • Wear business attire. First impressions are everything. Dress to impress. In other words, leave the athletic gear in the closet.
  • Sharpen the elevator pitch. Practice and deliver a one-minute pitch telling potential employers who you are, what you do, how do you do it, and what value you bring.
  • Hone soft skills. Give a firm hand-shake; make good eye contact. Brush up doing mock interviews.
  • Bring business cards. Ask for representatives’ cards and follow-up with employers you have an interest in. Send thank you notes or emails.  Ask for a referral in another department or branch if you’re not a fit for the job listed.

While long lines are expected at career fairs, the payoff could be some great conversations with employer representatives, says Thy Nguyen, director of career services at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“Be ready to engage representatives across all levels at the career fair,” Nguyen said.

With the right mindset and preparation, these tips can help boost your job-search productivity.

UIC hosts its 25th annual All Majors Career Fair March 19, 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., at Student Center East, 750 S. Halsted St.  The free event is open to UIC students and alumni only.

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