To help you make the most of your next in-person career expo, we’ve gathered seven invaluable tips from industry leaders and career experts. From conducting pre-event research and personal connection to planning, prioritizing, and pitching effectively, these professionals share their top strategies to ensure you leave the expo with more than just a handful of business cards. Dive in to discover how CEOs, Founders, Career Coaches, and other professionals maximize their expo experiences.
- Conduct Pre-Event Research and Personal Connection
- Strategically Network with Prioritized Connections
- Dress for Success at Career Expos
- Maximize Benefits with a Post-Expo Follow-Up
- Leverage Information for Targeted Interactions
- Use Expo for Elevator Pitch Practice
- Plan, Prioritize, and Pitch Effectively
Conduct Pre-Event Research and Personal Connection
When visiting an in-person career expo, it’s crucial to do your research ahead of time. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the hard work begins when you arrive; instead, set aside time prior to researching any businesses you’re interested in.
And for a deeper connection, don’t stop there. Call ahead to companies you’re especially interested in and let them know you’re coming.
Consider asking who will be working the booth. Then, look into their backstory and how they came to work in the industry. This personal knowledge will create an intimacy that can set you apart.
Make sure to take notes on what you’ve learned. Memorize them so when the moment comes you’re ready to leave a lasting impression.
Strategically Network with Prioritized Connections
When attending a career expo you never want to go in unaware. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your showing begins when you arrive; the real work is in the research.
Get a guest list ahead of time. If it’s not publicly available, reach out to the organizers. They’ll often be willing to let you know who has RVSP’d.
Then, prioritize your own connections. You likely won’t be able to visit every booth, so timing is crucial.
Next to an attendee’s name or company, write down any key topics you’d like to address. Ensure you’re abreast of any projects they’re working on, so you can open with a compliment, and have a segue ready to steer towards your own employment opportunities.
Knowledge is power and going in prepared is key to making the most of any career expo.
Dress for Success at Career Expos
As a recruiter, I’ve visited dozens of in-person career expos, and one thing that often stands out is the attendee’s casual attire. Just because these events tend to be held on weekends doesn’t mean it’s time to bust out the blue jeans and sneakers.
While you don’t need to show up in a three-piece suit, a good rule of thumb is to dress the same way you would for an interview.
Sartorial choices can go a long way towards helping hiring managers picture you in the role, so replace the t-shirt with a button-up and blazer.
Maximize Benefits with a Post-Expo Follow-Up
Utilizing a follow-up strategy after attending an in-person Career Expo is crucial for maximizing the benefits of the event. Since many attendees neglect this important step, taking the initiative to follow up gives you a competitive edge.
Send personalized thank-you emails to the recruiters or companies you connected with, expressing your gratitude for their time and reiterating your interest. Follow up with any promised materials or documents, such as your resume or portfolio.
Additionally, connect with them on professional networking platforms like LinkedIn to maintain the connection. By implementing a well-executed follow-up strategy, you demonstrate professionalism, stand out from the crowd, and increase your chances of building meaningful relationships and securing future opportunities.
Leverage Information for Targeted Interactions
This is your time to find out the little-known things about working for the company and ask any questions you have that might not be answered on the company’s website. Then, I’d utilize that information as the backbone of a cover letter tailored to a specific individual at the company.
Make the most of the situation to highlight your qualifications and the ways in which they can assist the business. In a nutshell, you should leverage your time at the career fair to set the stage for future, more targeted interactions.
Also, use your time wisely. Instead of wandering aimlessly from booth to booth, choose ahead of time the groups you’d like to see. Learn as much as you can about these groups, and give them your full attention.
Use Expo for Elevator Pitch Practice
The best part of an in-person career expo or job fair is visiting a booth or employer you’re less interested in—at least at first. Elevator pitches are tough! And oftentimes, our first draft of giving our pitch is not our strongest. But when you’re at an in-person career expo, you can practice your pitch on employers who are not at the top of your list, refine and sharpen your pitch, and then bring your A-game to your A-list employers.
Before you go to the expo, you’ll want to at least write down the bullets of your elevator pitch, if not practice to a friend or just yourself. And then you also want to make a ranked list of employers to visit, but save those top employers until you work out all the jitters and kinks in your opening.
Bonus tip: Make sure you browse through all the employers, even the ones you’re unfamiliar with. Like an old Blockbuster Video store, you never know what you might come across!
Plan, Prioritize, and Pitch Effectively
One effective tip for maximizing the benefits of attending an in-person Career Expo is to come prepared with a clear plan and set specific goals. As a CEO, I understand the importance of making the most out of networking opportunities and career events.
Before attending the career expo, research the participating companies and identify the ones that align with your career goals and interests. Prioritize the companies you want to connect with and gather information about their job openings, company culture, and values. This will enable you to have meaningful conversations and make targeted connections.
Then, craft a concise and compelling elevator pitch that highlights your skills, experiences, and career objectives. Practice delivering it confidently, ensuring that it captures attention and leaves a lasting impression.