I went to a career fair, now what?!
Spring and fall semesters are a busy time for students and recruiters as there are so many career fairs, networking, and recruiting events. Last spring, just at Stevenson University alone, we hosted a multitude of events, from Careers in Sports, to the Maryland Career Consortium Fair and the Diversity Career Expo, Careers in Publishing and Beyond, Careers in Government, Careers in Law and finally the C3 Fair (Corporate and Community Connections Fair)...
PHEW! That's A LOT of networking.
So, you went armed with your resume, your 30 second commercial, your research on the companies that were in attendance, and of course you were professionally dressed, and had the perfect handshake and eye contact! But what do you do after the fair/event is over and how do you keep in touch with the recruiters or the representatives that you met with at these events?
Collect contact information and make a note immediately
Hopefully you got a business card or an email of the representatives that you talked with and you jotted down some notes of where you met this contact and what you talked about. I would do this after getting each business card. If you leave it after the fair you are likely to mix up the recruiters and your conversations.
Connect as soon as you can
After the fair, organize your contacts, keep a record of who you met where. Send them an email or note reminding them of who you are, where you met, reference a part of your conversation you had and thank them for the information. I would also include an electronic copy of your resume and include your LinkedIn URL (ensure that your profile is up to date - make an appointment if you need help!).
Although you want to connect with an employer soon after you met them, most people you meet at a networking event expect to hear from you months after the event, so even if you haven't followed up yet, there is still time!
If you have a job lead, don't wait
If the recruiter at the fair asked you to apply online make sure you apply online ASAP! Once you have applied online, contact the recruiter and let them know that you have applied online and include your resume. Here’s what Kate Litman, Recruiter for Kennedy Krieger Institute had to say with regards to follow up after a fair, “I like it when an applicant emails me after he/she has applied online stating that they have applied online and attaches their resume and inquires about what the next steps are.”
Need a better resume?
If the recruiter gave you suggestions on improving your resume, make those changes and send them your new revised resume, again thanking them for the advice and showing your interest in the position.
Listen carefully and follow instructions
Monica B, Regional Recruiter with the CIA, has been to numerous job fairs and her advice to student is:
“Follow the instructions that I give you, if I say email me, then email me and do not call me, pay attention to the details.”
Following up after an event is really important, but remember that there is a fine line between a couple of follow up emails vs email just for the sake of emailing and being a nuisance!
Reflect on what you did well and what needs improvement
After the fair, I would also take some time to reflect on how you think you presented yourself at the fair. This will help you with the next event. Did you feel that you were prepared? Did you have your 30 second commercial ready? Did you take enough resumes? How confident did you feel talking to the recruiters? Did you ask good questions?
Use your resources
Career services counselors and industry specialist are available to help prepare you for career fairs, updating your resume, reviewing your application materials, and even helping you choose the most professional dress. You are not alone, but you do have to think ahead and make an appointment a few weeks in advance so you are prepared well in advance.
Good luck on your next career fair!