Career Fairs – What Exactly Do They Want?

By Melissa Nau

Even though Starbucks started pushing pumpkin spice on you the second it turned September, the summer is now actually over. Hopefully I’ve given you enough time to trudge back to your alma matter, get reacquainted with your college buddies, complain about assignments, and get right back into career mode. Since I know you already have a perfect resume, for those of you going back to the old academic grind it’s time to talk about one of your school’s best resources and your mom’s favorite thing to remind you about: The Career Fair.

While I always thought a career fair was a bunch of business students in suits mulling around like zombies, there’s actually more to it than that. Chances are, your college will have a career fair just for you—whether it’s environmental science, engineering, or even sustainability, your major has a market, and that market is made up of companies with job openings. They even differentiate between internship fairs and full time recruiting fairs, so you’ll be able to choose what you want right away depending on how many years (or months) of school you have left. It’s best to look up your school’s available career fairs at the beginning of the year, that way you can narrow down your options based on your class times, or even discuss options with your professors to avoid potential conflicts.

Overall, you should think of your interactions at career fairs as mini interviews. You wouldn’t show up to a first interview knowing absolutely nothing about the company you’re interacting with—preparation is key. You should be prepared to share your knowledge of the company whose booth you are standing in front of, and equally prepared to absorb the knowledge you’re missing. Your school will provide a list of companies who will be attending the career fair ahead of time, so get to Googling the ones that catch your eye.

Below I’ve made a list of short tips for proper career fair etiquette, followed by a list of career fairs Roux will be attending at the end of this year and early 2017. To see what positions we have open currently, check out our Careers Page.

Quick Career Fair Tips

  • Bring many copies of your resume and know what is on it! Make sure you have something to say about every bullet point so you’re not caught off guard.
  • With that being said, try to find a balance between being over-rehearsed and under-prepared when it comes to talking about yourself and your achievements.
  • Try to introduce yourself and give a quick overview of what the recruiter is about to see on your resume, rather than just shoving the piece of paper in their face.
  • Pretend you’re playing tennis: as mentioned, this shouldn’t be all about you. Let the recruiter give their overview as well. Give them time to ask you questions, and they will do the same for you.
  • Be confident, not cocky.
  • Be yourself. Yes this is corny, but recruiters do not want to hire a robot. Career fairs are a good test of your human interaction skills, which a lot of us need to work on. We want smart, well-spoken college graduates to join our team, but we also want people who are friendly, personable, and able to carry a casual conversation. While the atmosphere of a career fair tends to be noisy and chaotic, you’ll be able to make a lasting impression by speaking clearly and making eye-contact. Balance comes into play here as well—you don’t have to yell, but if you’re mumbling and can’t be heard, you’ll likely be forgotten.
  • Frame your interaction based on what you can offer the firm, not the other way around.
  • Dress to impress, obviously.
  • When researching a company, look at their office locations. Whether or not you’re honestly willing to relocate is important to a company; it’s almost always mentioned on a job application. Knowing the office locations will not only let recruiters know that you’ve read up on the company, but you can mention a specific office if it’s within range of where you want to live. For example, if you’re interested in Roux’s New Jersey office specifically, you could mention that to our recruiters and we could help you learn more about that particular office.
  • In addition to preparedness, punctuality is key! An inside source told me they were most impressed by the first person who came to Roux’s booth at a recent fair, and least impressed by the last person. If you have the power to make it on time, definitely go for it. You’re showing our firm that you’re super interested and ready to go. If you show up at 3:50 pm when the fair ends at 4, we’re going to assume we’re your last resort.

Upcoming Roux Recruiting Events

Tufts University Fall Career Fair
September 30 @ 11:30 am – 2:30 pm

Manhattan College 2016 STEM Career Fair
October 4 @ 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm

University of New Hampshire 2016 Fall Career & Internship Fair
October 5 @ 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Columbia University Engineering Career Fair
October 14 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

UMass Lowell Fall Career Fair
October 26 @ 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

All Ivy Environmental & Sustainable Development Career Fair
March 3, 2017 @ 10:00 am – 3:00 pm

One more tip: Save this page under your favorites and check back in the future!
We’re always adding more career fairs to the list.