Job Fairs

Dear Food Grad,

Another avenue for job hunting (whether for summer jobs, co-ops, or your first position post-graduation) is attending Job Fairs.  If you do it right, you can leave a positive and lasting impression on the very people responsible for finding employees.

I had a booth for The Original Cakerie at the University of Guelph job fair last week.  I was overwhelmed by the amount of talented and enthusiastic students that attended (I’m sure the free cake I was giving away didn’t hurt!).  Every single one was polite and respectful, but a few of them made a lasting impression, and here’s why:

7 things that impress me when students come to the booth:

  1. Dress for success. You don’t need to wear a suit, but it definitely makes a more positive impression when you aren’t wearing a track suit and/or ball cap.  A button down shirt, or blouse, and a pair of pressed dress pants goes a long way.  It shows that you care about making a professional impression.
  2. Be at the job fair earlier in the day….remember, The Early Student Gets the Cake! It gives you the best chance of getting my undivided attention, rather than at the end of the fair where I only have a few minutes to share with you.
  3. Do some quick research on the company before you get to the booth. Since the vast majority of people that came to the booth also had a cell phone in their hand, connect to the company website so we can spend more time talking about what you can do for my company, than me explaining what the company does.
  4. Smile! Honestly, nothing impresses me more than looking into a smiling face that looks like they are enjoying the conversation.  Even if you aren’t feeling it, fake it (that’s definitely a life skill you will need to develop, so go ahead and practice).
  5. Be (or at least pretend to be!) confident . Here’s another “fake it till you feel it” life skill.  I won’t bite, and I’m here to let people know The Original Cakerie exists;  I want to interact with people and I’m thrilled to speak with you.
  6. Shake hands (this goes for both males and females!). The business world is built on shaking hands as a greeting so practice it now.  It should be firm and purposeful (nothing worse than a “limp fish” handshake where I only get your fingers).
  7. If you get my contact information, follow up! You can do this with an email and/or find me on LinkedIn. Make the connection beyond the job fair and I will definitely remember you better.

The University of Guelph job fair was definitely one of the best run job fairs I have ever attended.  There were employers from all industries and I found everyone to be very warm and engaging.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, Food Grad – even the employers at the booths can be a little nervous interacting with the students.  We want to make just as good an impression on you as you do on us.

Attending a job fair is excellent practice for you before getting to an actual interview.  It’s a great way for you get to know companies you may not even know exist, and an even better way to meet the hiring people for the companies you really want to work for.

Next up – Your Online Presence: Ways You Sink Yourself Before You Even Start