The Ultimate Career Fair Checklist

It's that time of year again, friends. The time when college students across the nation are running to finish their resume and update their social profiles. That's right, career fair season is upon us.

As a junior at Purdue University, I'm fairly confident that I have a good understanding of how career fairs work, and I have definitely improved since last year's blog post. While those five tips are still relevant, I thought it would be fun to take it a step further and create the ultimate career fair checklist!

1. The resume.

Honestly, this is probably the worst part. How does a piece of paper make you stand out in a crowd of hundreds of qualified candidates? How is it fair that the awesome company you are totally good enough to work for has to judge you based on a single sheet of paper? Twenty-some years of awesome can't possibly fit on one page, but it must be done.

So, here's my advice - send it to everyone. Take it to your campus career center, send it to your mom and visit your academic advisor. The more eyeballs that see your resume prior to the career fair, the better. Once you receive tons of feedback, get so frustrated you could quit and then finally feel at peace, you're ready. Go print off enough copies to go around and put them in a nice padfolio!

2. The outfit.

For ladies, this might seem like a more difficult task than perfecting the resume. And maybe it is. However, the world we live in is keen on first impressions and that includes the clothes on your skin. Modesty is still cute, tight is not comfortable and a nicely tied tie will earn you some bonus points. You may also gain some bonus points if you bring your own nametag. Just a helpful hint.

Oh, and speaking of first impressions, make sure you have done your research before approaching the company recruiters so you know what the company does and what type of candidates they are searching for. You should have also practiced your elevator speech and your handshake. But don't be a robot when you introduce yourself because recruiters aren't robots, they're people.

3. The follow-up.

What, you were expecting a huge section discussing the career fair itself? The career fair is the easy part. You walk in, find the companies you like, have a conversation, give them your resume, smile and move on. It's simple. What makes it successful is what you do before and after. If you've done everything beforehand that needed to be done (the resume, research, actively posted on your LinkedIn account, organized your email inbox, picked out your outfit and the other items conveniently located on the downloadable Career Fair Checklist) then the chances are you will have an easy time with the stuff that needs to be done afterward.

The only tip I will give you for your time during the career fair is to collect business cards. You'll need them when you send out your thank you emails two days later. And then, you'll need them when you send a handwritten thank you note one week later (by one week later, I mean it should arrive one week later.) Having a calm, professional and genuine "thank you for your time" not only shows them you mean business, it demonstrates that you care.

I know sometimes it's easy to put a lot of weight on your shoulders when career fair time rolls around, but it doesn't have to be a chaotic ordeal. Organization and preparation will make career fair day much more manageable.

Now, go out there and get that interview! You've totally got this.


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