Career 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!!!****
About 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.