Business Horizons

Virginia Tech Business Horizons, Sept. 5 2019

Walking into a job fair is like trying to find classes during the first week of school –– there are a million things going on, and more often than not, students feel lost and confused. Finding a career is stressful, and it takes a lot of work. 

When talking to a potential employer, a good first impression means everything; therefore, it is absolutely crucial to do adequate research beforehand.

Prior to stepping into the room, know exactly which companies will be present, and most importantly, who is hiring within your major. There is no point wasting 10 minutes talking to a company that is not likely to hire you in the first place. 

Typically, all job fairs that run through Virginia Tech can be found on Handshake, under the “Events” tab. The majority of these events provide an index of the companies that will be there, and each company lists the various majors that they are looking to hire.

Look at this information beforehand and make a list of companies to visit so you will be able to get in and out efficiently. It is important to be one step ahead; research the companies that interest you and figure out exactly what they are looking for in their future employees. 

Plus, the recruiters are there to provide you with information, so be sure to ask questions. This will demonstrate a greater level of interest; however, make sure that any question you ask has a purpose. 

In addition, confidence is key, especially when talking to a potential employer. Practice your “elevator pitch” beforehand multiple times, perhaps recite it to your parents or roommates and have them provide feedback.

Also, dress to impress. Appearance is the first thing someone will notice, and you want to show these companies the best possible version of yourself. 

Most events have a business casual or formal dress code, so a pair of jeans is not going to make the cut. Be sure to invest in a nice pair of dress pants or skirt to make a good impression. It might cost you a pretty penny, but it’s definitely worth it in the long run. 

Men should definitely wear a button down shirt with a blazer, and, while not always required, a tie is a nice touch. 

Women can pair a nice blouse with dress pants or a skirt and a blazer. If they prefer to wear a dress, make sure it is knee length or longer. Short dresses often come across as unprofessional. 

There are multiple options as far as female footwear goes, from heels to dress flats or even a nice pair of ankle boots. It does not matter what you wear as long as it is not something that you would wear to the gym or pool. Sneakers and other casual footwear are not acceptable, so be sure to wear a pair of dress shoes.

Finally, when going to a job fair, it is very important to bring as many copies of your resume as possible. The worst thing that can happen is for a company to ask for a resume when you are out of copies to give to them. 

Carry your resumes in a nice leather folder if possible; the UniversityBookstore at Virginia Tech has several styles available for purchase if you do not have one. Not only does it look professional and elegant, but most of the folders also have notepads inside so you can take notes in style.

Overall, attending a job fair will probably be one of the most stressful experiences of your college career, so it is important to be organized and confident so that these companies see nothing but the best version of yourself.