- Go up to an employer and ask them what they do – The list of companies
participating in the career fair can be found on our website http://www.northeastern.edu/careers/jobs-internships/career-fairs/. You should research companies in advance so you can be prepared when you approach them. You’re more likely to impress employers that way.
- Walk around holding your girlfriend/boyfriend’s hand – A career fair is a professional event, and is not the place for PDAs (public displays of affection). Do you want the employer to perceive you as an immature college student, or a young professional?
- Travel with a pack of friends – You may all be looking for a job, but you each need to do your own job search. Be independent. You don’t want to appear as if you can’t do things on your own.
- Randomly grab goodies and giveaways from the employer tables – Yes, employers bring the stuff for a reason, but it’s rather tacky to walk up to an employer just for the sake of taking their food/toys, especially if you’re disrupting a conversation in progress.
- Talk on your cellphone while waiting in employer’s line – Cabot Cage is already crowded and noisy enough. Loud conversations while in line could disrupt the employer’s conversations, and may be interpreted that you’re not really focused on being there. Reviewing your resume or notes while in line can help give the impression that you’re prepared and thorough.
- Dress like you’re going to a club, or alternatively, the gym (don’t let the fact it’s in a gym fool you) – It’s possible to be under-dressed or inappropriately dressed for a career fair, but it’s hard to be over-dressed. Stick with a suit and you can’t go wrong.
- Wear clothes that don’t fit well – This includes clothing that is too big as well as too tight. You don’t want to look sloppy and/or unprofessional. Make sure you try clothes on in advance to make sure they fit.
- Ask an employer to “wow” you or convince you that you should want to work for them – While it’s important to determine if a particular company is a good fit for you (not just the other way around), this tactic can put the recruiter on the spot, and can make them feel defensive. If you move forward with the application process at any particular company, you can use your own research and interview to help you determine if that is, in fact, a company you’d like to work at.
- Get upset if the employer won’t take your resume – Due to a variety of regulations, some employers will talk to you, but won’t actually take your resume. Some employers will still make notes for themselves about candidates who impressed them, or provide you with more detailed information, so don’t let your frustration keep you from convincingly explaining your qualifications.
- Expect to leave the career fair with a job – No one leaves a career fair with a job, though some people may leave with interviews. The career fair is an opportunity to make face time with employer contacts, and making a good impression can often carry over into your application process with that company, even if it’s at a later date.
Tina Mello is Associate Director of University Career Services, and has worked at Northeastern for over 10 years. Nicknamed the “information guru” by other members of the staff, she loves to research and read about various job/career/education topics. For more career advice, follow her on twitter @CareerCoachTina.