Mastering Your Job Fair Strategy

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Julia Lee works in Community Growth at Planted, a talent platform that connects students and recent grads to non-technical positions at high-growth startups. Her main focus is user acquisition through a wide variety of channels, including paid social media marketing, content, partnerships, and events. Julia graduated from Yale in May 2015 with a degree in Political Science and worked in sales for a financial newswire startup before joining Planted.

Tips to make the most out of a job fair:

Before the event, do your research on the companies attending.
Decide which you want to visit and figure out what each one does. While the reps at the fair will be happy to tell you what the company does, wouldn’t you rather spend the couple minutes you have at each booth talking about more than that? Plus, almost everyone else will be opening with the question “What do you guys do?” Opening with a more interesting question that shows that you’ve researched the company will help you stand out.

During the event, don’t walk around in packs with your friends.
A career fair is an opportunity to make connections, network, and get to know employees on an individual level. If you’re walking around with three other people, you’ll be listening a lot more than you’ll be talking. That means you’ll be a lot less memorable. Some employers might even assume that you’re too shy to go up to a booth by yourself, and question whether you have the maturity and confidence to work for them.

Don’t just walk up to a company rep and rattle off everything your resume. They’ll get your resume anyway, and will absorb way more from reading it than from listening to you recite it. Talk to employers with the intention of telling a story that they can associate with your resume later. Loosen up and have a conversation! It’s a career fair, but employers are people too. You’ll make a much better impression if it doesn’t seem like all you care about is whether they’ll hire you.

After the event, follow up with the people you met, especially if you hit it off. Even if they weren’t hiring for a position you’re qualified for. Even if you weren’t interested in working for their company. You never know who could be helpful to you down the line.

A good follow-up email should thank them, refer to some memorable part of your conversation (all the easier if you follow the tips above for a non-generic conversation!), and ask to get coffee or jump on a quick call to talk further about questions you have. If you think that seems too forward, it’s not. People love helping others and talking about themselves. The worst thing that could happen is your email going ignored. The upside? You never know!

Are you an undergraduate, graduate student, or MBA candidate interested in paid part-time jobs, full-time jobs or internships in the exciting world of Start Ups? Meet employers and explore opportunities at the NYU Spring 2016 Start Up Job Expo today, 4:00PM-6:30PM at The Wasserman Center. RSVP on CareerNet to learn more!