Five Ways to Stand Out at the Career Fair

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Career fairs are a bustling market of opportunities, where students and recruiters gather with the shared goal of filling available positions. Trish Shafer, executive director of the Career Development Center, knows them well, with experience as both a recruiter and a career development specialist. 

Here are five tips from Shafer for students on how to be an excellent candidate at Saint Joseph’s University Career Fair on Thursday, September 20, starting at 10 a.m., in the Michael J. Hagan ’85 Arena. 

1. Do your research. 

Approximately 200 organizations — including Comcast, Boys & Girls Club of Philadelphia, E&J Gallo Winery and Vanguard  — will attend the Career Fair. Shafer’s advice: Take a few minutes to log in to your Handshake account or app. It’s the best place to begin researching the organizations that will be present.

2. Focus on your skills.

Develop and practice a 30-second elevator pitch that highlights your strongest skills. “Some technically-based roles will require a specific major,” Shafer says, “but most employers are seeking applicants with skills that align with the job.” Having a pitch that is focused on your skills, rather than your major, might open opportunities you would not have considered. 

Shafer’s advice: The Career Development Center is an excellent place to go for help developing an elevator speech; it’s open for drop-in visits Monday through Friday from 1 to 3:45 p.m., or you can schedule an appointment on Handshake.

3. Plan ahead. 

With so many organizations in attendance, it’ll be easy to get sidetracked during the fair. Decide what kind of positions you’re interested in, then create a targeted list of organizations to prioritize and research them before the event. This will help you prepare your introduction (such as which skills you want to highlight) and also help affirm your interest in the organization. 

Shafer’s tip: “The more knowledgeable you seem about the opportunity, the more you’ll stand out in the crowd.”

4. Follow up.

“Send follow-up emails to the employers you met to let them know you appreciated the opportunity to talk to them,” says Shafer. “Don’t forget to get business cards.” 

The best way to affirm your interest in an opportunity is to actively pursue it. Again, Handshake is an invaluable resource. Use it to see if the employers you’re interested in will be returning to Saint Joseph’s for on-campus interviews or information sessions.

5. Utilize your resources.

New this year, all government and non-profit agencies attending the event will be located along the perimeter. “No more wandering through the fair to find them,” says Shafer. “They’ll be easy to locate along the first two rows of the fair.”

You can find other useful information about the fair on Handshake. Career Development Center employees are available this week to to help prepare pitches and fine-tune resumes both in person and through the website. 

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