• Talia Basma

Be Prepared: 4 Common Mistakes to Avoid Before a Career Fair

A big reason we strive to do well in our classes is so that we have better job prospects in the future, and a great way to explore those prospects is through the UC Davis Spring Internship and Career Fair.

Overall, it’s better to be over-prepared for these events than underprepared. While the career fair may not be as much of a priority as the quiz you have coming up, always keep in mind your long-term goals. It doesn’t hurt to start thinking about and preparing for post-graduation life.

The UC Davis Internship and Career Center website provides several resources to help you prepare for the career fair, such as resume-building tips and interview advice. But where do you start?

By avoiding common mistakes and following the 4 strategies below, you’re sure to attend the career fair well prepared and ready to impress a number of job recruiters — and maybe even yourself!

Mistake 1: Getting all your career advice from friends and family

Strategy: Meeting with an advisor

Davis provides several opportunities for students to meet with advisors who’ll help edit resumes and portfolios for quality and content. Students have a few different options:

Visiting an advisor during drop-in hours is best for quick fixes, such as asking which sources to use to find jobs and internships. You get 15 minutes, which may be enough time to go over simple edits and get feedback regarding a cover letter and resume.

For more in-depth conversations on topics such as career options, networking strategies, and salary negotiation strategies, scheduling a 30-minute appointment is ideal. During such appointments, students have more time to edit their job application and discuss interview skills.

Mistake 2: Not doing any “homework” on your business skills

Strategy: Going to a 50-minute workshop

The Internship and Career Center workshops are less about one-on-one help and more for honing a particular skill, with each workshop focusing on a specific topic. For instance:

If you don’t have a resume (or if you worry that it’s “weak”), a workshop called “Resume Basics” would be useful.

For those who want to perfect their already-made resume, a workshop called “Resume Boost!” would be more helpful.

If you want practice and advice about interviewing (to help you prepare for possible questions at the career fair), you’d want to investigate the workshop “Interview Basics.”

There’s even a workshop solely dedicated to preparing for the career fair, cleverly named “Prepare for the Fair.”

Photo by William Stitt on Unsplash

Mistake 3: Not making sure you look the part

Strategy: Dressing to impress

We’re told not to judge a book by its cover, but first impressions do make a difference and being dressed for the occasion is still very important, according to the Davis Career Center website. Some of their tips to help you put your best foot forward:

  • Pick a wrinkle-free, professional outfit. (Ask an advisor if you’re not sure about your choice.)

  • Keep jewelry to a minimum.

  • Have professional shoes to match.

  • Smell clean but avoid using too much perfume/cologne. (Some recruiters have allergy problems!)

  • Do not chew gum as you speak to possible employers. For fresh breath, stick to a mint or brush your teeth before the fair.

  • Turn your cell phone to “off,” not “vibrate.” Give the fair your full focus while there.

Mistake 4: Winging it on career fair day

Strategy: Planning your route

Some career fairs have more-promising potential employers for you than others, depending on your major and career ambitions, so try to maximize each event. Go to the UC Davis Internship and Career Center website and see which companies are going to be attending (here’s a list of businesses coming to the April 18, 2018, career fair).

Spend some time on the Internet to look up companies that sound interesting, then prioritize the tables you want to visit.

Also, prepare questions to ask at each table, and be ready for questions to be asked of you in return.

Best-case scenario: You leave with a possible job opportunity from one or more companies. Worse-case scenario: You miss the career fair altogether because you didn’t even know there was one! If you make it at all, that alone is a plus.

Most important, try not to overthink how “well” you did. If you stuttered or mumbled “um” a bit too frequently, remember that each career fair is a learning opportunity. With enough practice, you’re sure to impress recruiters and find your dream job.

Originally posted on Course Hero March 8th, 2018

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