For the last few years, I have been volunteering as an Employment Coach for the San Jose State University Job/Internship fairs.  It’s almost spring, and it’s that time again!  I truly enjoy the opportunity to meet friendly and professionally dressed students and grads, take a few minutes to review their resumes, answer their questions and share some brief tips on “working” the fair.  If you have never been to a job fair, picture a large conference hall packed with hundreds of attendees lining up to talk to employers from “trendy” companies; or trying to navigate the employer map to find companies to submit their resumes; or just wandering aisle by aisle looking for the free company-logo giveaways and candy on the tables.  It’s an event worth experiencing, having worked both sides of the table as a recruiter and attendee.  These are my tips for making it a worthwhile (and not so overwhelming) experience:

  • Be Prepared – Students should check out the list of employers scheduled to attend the fair, find the companies of interest and check their websites for internships or jobs, especially if they get a chance to talk to a recruiter who is hiring!
  • Professional Resume – Since there are many employers and varied job openings to explore, students should create a generic resume, beginning with a Summary section highlighting their education, skills and work/volunteer experience. They should even bring a few copies to submit in person.
  • Dress to Impress – If your students get to shake someone’s hand, grab a business card or brochure, or leave their resumes on the table – that first impression is key – especially if they land an interview and get to sell themselves as talented candidates!
  • Smile – Always be smiling and have a confident handshake (even practice with your students)
  • Follow Up – After the fair, students should email the employers they met, thank them for taking time to talk with them, and let them know they are interested in exploring job/internship opportunities with their company.

Like the name tag above says, the message is “Hello, I Am Talented”.  Help your students and grads discover their talents, and bring them to the job fair!

By Judi Garcia