Our tips for successful Career Fairs (for candidates)

Georgia and I attended the Vancouver StartUp week Career Fair. It was an entertaining night; full of conversation and fueled by candy.

We gathered some of our thoughts from the experience, and put together this list of tips for candidates attending career fairs.

Do your homework. We will be forever grateful.

We were talking non-stop. As employers at career fairs, you have to be on for 3+ hours without breaks. Hundreds of people come by the booth within a tight timeline, and conversations start to repeat;

repeat;

repeat.

While we chatted with people who were passionate about MetaLab, and eager to learn more about the specific roles we are hiring for, every now and then someone came by and opened the conversation with “What is it that you do?” or “What is MetaLab?”.

Yes, we are ambassadors for MetaLab. And yes, part of our job is a pitch.

A strategic, thoughtful candidate uses a career fair as an opportunity to present themselves to target companies. And we like to know that you know what you want!

Tip 1: Know the company.

If you want to get past small talk and into the meat of the conversation, know the basics of what our company is all about. If you didn’t look it up ahead of time, do a quick search on your phone while you wait for the company reps to become free (because there will likely be a bit of a wait).

Follow us on Twitter, dribbble or Facebook to gather context on what we’re up to. Ideally you’d do this before the event, but anytime after works too!

Tip 2: Know the role.

Research the roles our company has open. (Or know what job that you would like to have there one day)

If you already know 1) who you are talking to, and 2) what types of roles we hire for, you can save yourself a lot of time by skipping booths of companies that don’t apply to your skills or interests.*

*Thank you to the financial analysts who stood and nodded through my company pitch, and then politely excused themselves.

Bring us your card.

We ran out of business cards and swag embarrassingly fast (totally my fault). And I was surprised at how many people showed up without any form of contact information.

I personally can’t stand paper copies of resumes. Sorry to everyone whose resume I took!

As a recruiter, I live on LinkedIn; my eyes are accustomed to reading online profiles.

Being a design and development agency, we love looking at portfolios of work like dribbble, behance, and github.

Tip 3: Bring a card that covers the basics.

Your name, social profiles/online portfolio, email, and phone number. 
That’s really all we need to know.

Be identifiable online.

This morning I woke up to follow up with messages, applications and emails that came in from career fair goers. After struggling to put a few faces to names*, I turned to LinkedIn to jog my memory. I’ll admit, I get mildly frustrated when I find a profile void of photo, or a cartoon drawing instead. #RecruiterProblems

* Yes, I know as a recruiter I’m supposed to have super powers when it comes to remembering names and faces. But cut me some slack people! There are a lot more of you than there are of me.

Tip 4: Use a current photo of yourself on your professional profiles.

Pretty self explanatory on that one.

Stand out in a crowd.

Did we have a really cool vibe going? Did we talk about something totally awesome? Did I tell you that certain experience you have would be a perfect match for our company? If so, remind me!

Tip 5: Remind me about our conversation in your follow up email.

Give us a little reminder of what made taking to you so interesting!

“Hey Erica, It was great to meet you at the career fair. I especially enjoyed chatting about how X project at MetaLab is so similar to my work with Y”.

There are a lot of people at these events. And a lot of emails and cover letters that get sent our way as a result. We read enough of these bad boys to know when it’s a generic one that you’ve sent to everyone you met that night.

Tip 6: Make your cover letter personal.

Along the same lines, a great cover letter is personalized to each reader. If you really want to shine, put a little personality into it!

Prepping yourself ahead of time will go a long way in creating a positive experience for both you, and your target company at these types of events. Next time you see us at a career fair, or just out in the world, come say hi!