How to get the most out of a job and career fair

Marianne Bom & Rie Jerichow, Publicér

A job and career fair can seem unmanageable, with a lot of companies and a ton of other students. Here is some advice from career counsellor Annika Camilla Jørgensen from AAU Karriere on how to make the most of the fair, regardless of whether you are looking for full-time employment, a study job, internship, or a collaboration on a project.


“It is a good idea to have decided which companies you want to speak with at the fair”, says career counsellor Annika Camilla Jørgensen from AAU Karriere. Private photo.

Is it necessary to prepare before you show up at the fair?
“Yes, because if you do not prepare, it will be an unfocused visit, where you wander restlessly, without really speaking to any companies. You may waste two hours, and at best you get some merchandise and candy,” says career counsellor Annika Camilla Jørgensen from AAU Karriere.

How do you prepare?
“The preparation is about getting an overview of which companies will be there and what they are searching for. You also have to consider what you want to achieve by talking to them and how you present your strong competences. Before a job and career fair, it may be a good idea to sign up for one of the preparing seminars hosted by the universities or DSE. They can help clear up which competences you have, which companies it will be beneficial to contact and how to present yourself in the best way for the companies you are interested in. You can also prepare alone, but more people benefit from talking to others, and seeing it through their eyes. It can also be a good idea to look through your résumé and adjusting it, so it clearly states how you are qualified for the job or internship that you hope to get.”

How do you prepare to meet the companies?
“There may be 100 companies there, which means it may be a good idea to pick out a handful that you want to talk to in advance. Look at what the companies have written in the fair catalogue, and try to figure out what they are looking for and why they are at the fair. Read their website to see how they describe themselves and what is going on right now. You can also google a bit, because there may be a new event that can serve as a good opener. For instance, did they just win a big project, or are they opening a branch in China? That sort of information can be a good opener for a good conversation at the fair, which can help you state your competences: “I saw that you are starting up with ‘this and that’, and I actually have a background where I worked with that exactly.” The more you know about the company, the better you can deliver a relevant message.”

Should you also prepare your outfit and appearance?
“Yes, it is a good idea to look at yourself in the mirror before you leave home. Do you look fairly presentable, so you can show up nicely, neatly, and with a pleasant smell? You do not have to wear a suit or a blazer, just some nice clothes that you feel comfortable in.”

Is there anything it could be a good idea to bring?
“Yes, it is a good idea to bring a résumé. It’s not like you have to hand out 100 résumés, and some companies only want résumés digitally. But it can be nice to bring and present while you speak. And of course, it is great to have it if anyone wants to take it home.”


Who from the company do you meet?
“It will be a combination of HR people and employees that match the candidates they want to speak to. As an engineer, you may be a bit disappointed if there is only HR personnel, who do not know anything about the technical work. Then it is okay to ask who in the company will be the right one to contact afterwards. The HR personnel are there as a connector, so they want to help.”

How do you tackle the visit at the fair?
“It is a good idea to have a list of priorities with whom you want to have spoken before you leave. But be open to be surprized, if you meet other interesting people or companies. You can go with a study buddy, but do not walk around in larger groups. It can feel a bit unmotivated and closed-off to walk in a large group. It is best to reach out to the companies on your own, because you only represent yourself. When you do that, you have to be prepared to explain what you can help the company with. It is fine to have a speech practiced, but remember that you will have a dialogue. Use both mouth and ears, and try to be present.”

What advice can you give to a shy or introverted person?
“Remember that the people who are sent to the fair are there to meet people like you. They are welcoming and open. Companies use a lot of resources to come, so for them it is important that they speak to qualified candidates. They will be super interested in talking to you. You are not disturbing them. You are doing them a favour. If you have prepared from home, you have the advantage of being able to tell them why you went to their booth specifically. Maybe you want to hear about the possibilities of an internship or a study job, and maybe you find out that they need exactly the competences you have.”

Should you be aware of your body language?
“It may be a good idea to collect yourself on the way to the booth. Straighten your back and think positively: they are here because they want to meet me and the other students. In the booth you will be able to tell what is the norm. Do you shake hands, or just say ‘sup’? Some students and candidates are better at getting into contact than others, but it is not that important whether you are good at it or not. The companies need all kinds of profiles. Both introverts and extroverts.”


What could be a good idea to do after the fair?
“It can be a good idea to follow up within a week or two, especially if you agreed to call them or send an application. In this case, it is of course important to remember who you were supposed to contact. At the fair, you may think that you can remember it all, but you usually can’t. This is why it is a good idea to get some business cards to take home. You can also take notes during the fair. Who did I speak to, what was I told, and what follow-up was agreed upon?”