6 Things You Need To Consider Before Your Next Career Fair

21 07 2015

76463757_24a1858d2e_oCareer fairs can be hard to navigate. The layout and crowded aisles obscure employer booths and, when you do find them, you might only have the time to learn what the company does before other candidates sneak in and introduce themselves. It can be a real war zone.

Without preparation, you could waste time talking to employers who are the wrong fit for your personal aspirations. To make your visit to a career fair as effective as possible, you need to know what positions you’re looking for, the companies you’d like to target, and what you’re going to talk about in terms of your career goals.

Fortunately, technology is here to help. Here are a few job search preparation tactics that can help you excel at your next career fair, using tech:

  1. Understand your interests and personality

Get to know yourself, the environments in which you thrive and what types of job elements keep you engaged. If you don’t know yourself or what you want, it’s not likely you’ll choose a job that’s a good fit for you.

There are several apps and online tools to help with this. For example, my company designed an iOS app called PathSource to help students who have no idea what they want to do explore career options and establish a clear vision.

  1. Determine your income needs.

Determine the salary you need to make to support your lifestyle. That includes student loans, housing, other living expenses, and, ideally, some money to put away for later.

Conduct a lifestyle assessment looking at where you want to live, your industry, and what you need to make using a personalized salary calculation tool. When you visit career fairs, only target jobs that pay enough to support this lifestyle.

  1. Know your education requirements.

Eighty-two percent of 2015 grads looked at the job market before choosing a major, up from 75 percent in 2014, according to a new Accenture study.

Look at the market and availability of jobs your degree applies to. Can you land a job with your bachelor’s, or do most of the jobs available in your field require a master’s or PhD? Explore different areas of study and majors required for your career path before deciding what you’re going to pursue.

  1. Learn what it’s really like to work in your industry.

No matter how much you think you can learn by reading about a job online, nothing will give you more insight than hearing from real employees who work in your industry. Search for interviews with employees at your target companies online. Connect with professionals in your industry and ask if you can set up an informational interview to learn about what they do.

Then, at your next career fair, you’ll have plenty ideas about what to discuss with prospective employers and have confidence you’re pursuing the right opportunities for you.

  1. Let new tech do some of the work for you.

New tools are being launched every day for mobile and wearable devices that make our lives easier. In fact, my company just launched a new app for the Apple Watch that helps you find career fairs in your area and provides all the details about them. You can use it to help you navigate around career fairs in real-time and connect with key employers faster.

  1. Do your company research.

Don’t wander into a career fair or hiring event without specific goals in mind. Always research what companies will be there, which of those you’re going to target, and what you’ll need to make a great first impression.

Research open positions, company news, and other events your target company plans to be at next. The more chances you have to meet with your prospective employers, the more you will learn and can show your interest.

A little extra time spent thinking about what you’re really interested in and preparing for career fairs will pay huge dividends as you search for a job. And you’ll waste less time doing it too if you plan ahead.

What steps are you taking to prepare yourself for your next career fair?

****For this great post, Campus to Career thanks Aaron Michel!!!****

06f211fAbout the author: Aaron Michel
is the co-founder and CEO at PathSource, a career exploration solution helping students and job seekers make better career choices. To navigate your infinite career possibilities, connect with Aaron and the PathSource team on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


Standing Out (In a Good Way)

1 07 2015

It’s a tough world out there. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, for every job opening in 2009, there were 6.2 people unemployed. Today, that statistic has gotten better and is now 1.6 unemployed per job (5.4 million openings in April 2015.) Companies are seeking future leaders to take their organizations into the next era vs. hiring “butts in seats.” What does this mean? It means the competition is still fierce and you’ve got to have what it takes to land the job and succeed. Here are a few ways you can set yourself apart from the competition, laying the foundation for future success:

20150630_093135Have a plan

“If you fail to plan, plan to fail.” I’ve used my mother’s quote many times before and it still rings true. Plan for success, learning from your setbacks and failures.


Things to include on your plan’s checklist:

Share your plan

Prefer to do things on your own? That’s okay. There are advantages to being the lone wolf like being more aggressive or having more strength , but remember that once a wolf is driven from the pack, they may never rejoin a group again. Yes, they survive, but just barely and on much smaller food rations. Where am I going with this?? Share your success plan with your mentor, your teammates and your boss/potential boss. Get their input, adjust where needed and keep them updated throughout the process. Why?? Keeping your head down and working hard might not get you noticed. Don’t be a jerk about it, but toot your own horn now and then!

Follow through

You have the plan – follow it. Do what you say you’ll do. It’s that simple. 

Have a sense of humor and SMILE

We get it. Work is work and sometimes, it’s not fun at all. But that doesn’t mean you have to have a miserable attitude, bringing everyone else down with you. See the positive side of things and smile – to yourself and to others. I’m finding myself smiling right now as I type this post. No one likes a grouch!

Be patient, tenacious but kind

Things take time. Whether it’s waiting on a response from an interviewer or an email from your boss regarding a big project you just submitted, realize that what seems like a lifetime of waiting for you may only seem like seconds to the other party. Don’t give up, though. Be tenacious but kind. Follow up when and where appropriate so you receive the response or input you need. I recently worked with a student who had his heart set on a particular internship with a top company. He did everything right – applied online, submitted his resume, followed up with a personalized thank-you note, reached out via LinkedIn and heard absolutely NOTHING from the recruiter despite every attempt to make contact. He didn’t get that job, but he didn’t give up. Another recruiter from another company remembered him (from his onsite impression and follow up) and offered him an even better internship for the summer.  Don’t get so focused on what’s in front of you that you fail to see the bigger picture.

What did I miss? If you recently landed a job, how did you set yourself apart from the competition in a positive way?

I’d like to leave you with one last resource. An unofficial mentor of mine wrote this fantastic piece for LinkedIn: Work Hard, Be Kind. Check it out.

As always, thanks for reading.