Career Development · Student Success · Texas Tech · Thoughts from Tutors

The 5 Keys to Success – Preparing for the Career Fair

By Matt McCutchen, TECHniques Center Tutor

It is everyone’s favorite time of year again where we dust off our resume paper, put on our Sunday’s best, and go elbow to elbow with our peers in an effort to win that coveted internship or full time job. This is what we’ve all worked so hard for, the opportunity to look that employer in the eye with a smile on our face and tell them why we deserve to be a contributor to their organization. Before we get to that step though, here are 5 major keys to success to land that job or internship by attending one of Texas Tech’s career fairs.

The 5 Keys to Success

  1. Have your resume, CV, and cover letters critiqued and finalized.

The first key is to update your resume each semester. Include things such as your educational background, previous work experience, organizations you are involved in and leadership positions you’ve held in those organizations. Each college’s job fair has a different resume format that they prefer, so be sure to visit the University Career Center or a college specific event to get your professional documents critiqued so that you’re ready to show yourself off at the career fair!

  1. Pre-register for the fair of your choice.

The second key is to register at any and all job fairs that you qualify for or are interested in attending. In doing so, you will save yourself time and energy by being able to skip the registration lines. Also, by pre-registering, you usually will be subscribed to the job fair’s email chain, which could provide important information that might help you land a job. Found below are some links to each college’s career fair:

Engineering (Job Grid)
Business (HireRawls)
Media and Communication
All Majors
  1. Research employers of interest and plan your strategy.

Attending a job fair can be so overwhelming. There are so many people, booths, and companies it can be difficult to know where to start. Generally, one of the attached websites will have a list of all of the companies in attendance at your fair. I highly advise that you look into companies that interest you and do some research on them! Figure out what their company’s core values are, where their offices are located, what their internship / university new hire process looks like, and what type of business they do. Finally, envision yourself working at that company and discover what you might be doing. If it might be a fit, add this company to the list of those you wish to talk to at the fair. Don’t be afraid to plan out a strategy of who you want to talk to and in what order, this will help you be more efficient and stay on task at the fair!

  1. Apply for interviews ahead of time online.

Many of the career fair websites will have access to job positions opened for interviews. It is critical to apply to positions of interest both on those websites and on the company’s website before you visit with them at the career fair! This shows the employer that you have seriously considered them as a place to work and that you are a self-starter. It also allows you to avoid the “Apply online” talk from the recruiter and instead focus on you and your potential fit with their company. This is the most effective technique in getting an interview!

  1. Develop your elevator pitch and practice, practice practice.

Once you finally get your moment to make a first impression, make it a memorable and lasting one with the recruiter. Come prepared with your rehearsed elevator pitch – a short 20 to 30 second persuasive speech that you use to spark the recruiter’s interest in you as a potential employee. Make sure to focus on your skills that might fit the criteria of a particular job, your greatest strength or something that sets you apart from your classmates, your primary motivation of why you want to be in the field you’re in, and your goal in talking to this employer (this might be a specific position at their company). Below is a link below if you’d like to learn more and craft your pitch!

Final Thoughts:

I know that it can be so intimidating to go through a job fair, so why not take some of the pressure and stress off by coming prepared? The time that you put into your preparation can pay off in earning that job or internship you’ve worked so hard for! Make sure that when you attend the job fair that you bring multiple copies of your resume, dress professionally, and network as much as possible. Ask relevant and intelligent questions to recruiters and seek constructive criticism when necessary, focus on the value that you can offer the employer, be engaged in the conversation, and most importantly smile! If you receive any contact information from any of the recruiters, feel free to follow up with them and thank them for meeting with you. It’s the little things that can allow you to stand out and win a job! I have attached Texas Tech’s remaining career fair schedule for the spring 2017 semester – good luck!

Job Fair Schedule:

Date Event Time Location
4/5/2017 All Majors Job Fair 12 PM – 4 PM SUB Ballroom
4/12/2017 Non-Profit Fair 2 PM – 4 PM SUB Ballroom
A headshot of a man smiling in professional dress
Matt McCutchen is a STEM MBA graduate student in the Rawls College of Business


*Are you maybe a few years away from a professional job, but still want to gain experience with an internship? Check out Senior Academic Counselor Katie Ericson’s blog about making your summer work for you and getting the most out of an internship or summer job!

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