10 things NOT to do at a career fair — Joyce’s Career Tip of the Week

The Fulton Schools Career Fairs are next week! You know what to do to get ready, but here are some tips of what not to do in order to be successful.

10. Dress like you do every day. Be comfortable! Arizona college students always wear shorts and flip-flops.

You have only one chance to make a first impression. Dress as seriously as you want to be taken. Dressing professionally shows that you are invested in your job search and scores points, putting you ahead of those who do not. Also, pay attention to personal hygiene. Use deodorant. Don’t overdo it with perfume and cologne. It can get hot in there! Also, breath mints are a good idea. No one ever lost out on an opportunity for being too clean. On the other hand, would you hire someone who makes your eyes water simply because they didn’t take the time to pop a Tic Tac?

9. Don’t bring any résumés or bring copies of one that is several pages long.

Remember that your résumé is your commercial — not your autobiography. A carefully crafted résumé illustrates your ability to showcase your strongest qualities and experiences that are of interest to employers. Consider the résumé as the advertisement for the product…YOU! Would you be enticed to invest in something advertised with pages of words that go on and on without showing why it would be good for you? Of course not! You are more likely to buy something when you know how it will make a positive impact.

8. Let the recruiter know that you’re really annoyed when you’re told to “apply online.”

The online application is a necessary part of the hiring process. Candidates need to be in a company’s database in order to proceed to the next step. This is NOT a dismissal. Additionally, this is your first opportunity to demonstrate your ability to follow directions. You can certainly demonstrate your interest in a company by applying online in advance; and, letting the recruiter know that this step is already completed.

7. Be arrogant! Make sure that recruiters know how lucky they are to be talking to you and let them know how long you had to stand in line.

You do want the recruiter to be glad to meet you, however, you want to appear poised and self-confident without crossing the line to obnoxious. As for waiting in line, recruiters are standing for hours — day after day, one campus after another. Let them know that you’re glad to have them here.

6. When shaking a recruiter’s hand, hold it very gently so that you are barely touching, or squeeze it really hard to show how strong you are.

Worst of all, don’t let go — just stand there and keep shaking hands. If you have doubts about your handshake, practice with a friend or someone from the Fulton Schools Career Center. If your palms are sweaty, bring tissues to wipe them off.

5. Speak softly and avoid making eye contact.

Speak clearly and distinctly. There will be lots of background noise. Making eye contact is critical. If this makes you uncomfortable, look at the recruiter’s nose. No one will know the difference.

4. Send text messages to your friends while you’re standing in line and answer a call on your cell when you’re talking to a recruiter.

Turn off your cell phone while you are at the career fair and keep it out of sight! Expressing interest and showing enthusiasm for a company scores points. Read their brochures and study their promotional materials while waiting in line. Give the recruiter 100 percent of your attention.

3. After you introduce yourself, start asking about benefits and how soon you can expect to be promoted.

Remember that throughout the entire job search process, it is your responsibility to show the hiring team what you can do for them — not what they can do for you. It is up to you to convince the interviewers that it is to their benefit to hire you.

2. Don’t have a clue about what you want to do.

Recruiters and hiring managers come to career fairs to find and hire talent — not to do career counseling. It is inappropriate to expect them to help you figure out what you want to do. Recruiters want to see that you have a focus that aligns with their hiring needs. If you are unclear about your interests and career options related to your major, plan to visit the Fulton Schools Career Center. There are resources to help you gather the information you need to make sound decisions. Use Handshake to schedule an appointment.

1. Ask the recruiter, “So what exactly does your company do?”

The most common complaints we hear from recruiters is that students express limited information about the company does and ask questions that can are easily answered with a quick visit to the company website. All companies attending the career fair have websites and the information about opportunities is posted on Handshake long before the event. The career fair will be crowded. Make the most of your time at the event by being prepared. Study the companies beforehand. Target those that interest you. Use your face-to-face time to demonstrate how and why you are what they need.


Joyce Donahue is a Certified Career Counselor who works in the Fulton Schools Career Center.