Get a Career Fair recruiter’s attention by giving a great elevator speech!

When you walk up to recruiters at next week’s Career Fair, what are you going to say? After you shake hands and tell them your name, what are you going to talk about?


You have less than a minute to tell an employer your skills and background and what makes you a qualified candidate for job openings at their company. You accomplish this task by writing and practicing a killer elevator speech.

To give a great speech you need good content and sharp delivery. Make the recruiter want to ask more questions about your background and accept your resume for future consideration.


Discuss your professional background as it relates to the company. How does your education or experience make you qualified for this job? What skills do you have that will help you contribute to the company’s success? Not only does this show you know yourself, it shows you’ve done your company research.

Convey any related experience you have. Remember, relevant experience isn’t always paid. Did any classroom projects help develop a solid knowledge base? What about internships, volunteer experience or campus or community leadership roles you’ve had?

Include a “hook,” or a way to get the employer to take action. Ask for a business card, ask relevant questions about the job or inquire about the hiring process.


Start with a confident handshake. Remember to smile and maintain comfortable eye contact. Being nervous is understandable, so take a deep breath beforehand to avoid talking too fast.

Finally, the best speakers rehearse a practiced speech beforehand. You should do the same. Take time now to write and practice your elevator speech. Rehearse it in front of the mirror and family and friends. Time it to make sure it doesn’t exceed one minute. Get feedback from your audience and practice your speech many times.

Your goal at the job fair is to capture the recruiter’s interest enough to be considered for a follow-up interview. A strong elevator speech helps you achieve this goal.


Professional dress: Make a good first impression at the Career Fair

As you’re preparing for the CPCC Job Fair on Thursday, March 6, remember this fact: Employers critique your candidacy before you say a word. As you walk up to their table and prepare to discuss your qualifications, they’ve already made one evaluation about your attire. Does your choice of clothing fit the part of a future employee?

Professional dress is required for admission to the career fair. Why? Because a career fair is an event where employers and job seekers discuss professional job opportunities. The question should be why wouldn’t you dress professionally?

But what does professional dress exactly mean?  Check out the following guidelines to help you dress for success at the career fair.


  • Business suits
  • Khakis or dress slacks
  • Collared or button-down shirts
  • Professional dresses and skirts
  • Navy, black or dark grey colors work best
  • Neutral or matching panty hose
  • Closed-toe shoes (no sandals!)
  • Minimal jewelry (avoid long dangly earrings, bangle bracelets and excessive necklaces)
  • Groomed hairstyle
  • Light makeup and perfume
  • Neatly manicured, clean nails

Low-cut shirts, short skirts and tight fitting clothes will make an impression, but it won’t be the right one.


  • Suit (solid color, preferably navy, black or dark grey)
  • Long-sleeve shirt (white or color that coordinates with the suit)
  • Belt and matching tie
  • Dark socks and matching conservative shoes
  • Little or no jewelry
  • Neat professional hairstyle
  • Limit aftershave and cologne

Be sure your suit is properly fitted.

Some other appearance errors to avoid at the career fair

  • Wrinkled clothes. The night before or morning of the interview, iron your clothes.
  • Bad breath. Bring breath mints instead of gum.
  • A loud cell phone ring.  Avoid this potential distraction when talking to an employer by turning your cell phone ringer off or at the very least setting it to vibrate.
  • Exposed body parts. A job fair isn’t the place for spaghetti straps, mid-drift tops or muscle shirts.
  • A showcase of tattoos. If your arms are covered with art, cover them.
  • Food in your teeth. Check a mirror to make sure your smile won’t be distracting.
  • Piercings in other places besides ear lobes. It’s best to removal facial and tongue rings.
  • Unique hair color or nail polish. Stick to traditional conservative colors.
  • A backpack. Carry your resumes in a binder or folder.

Finally, you don’t have to break the bank to look sharp. Big box favorites like Target, Kohl’s, TJ Maxx and Marshall’s offer great professional dress options at a fraction of the cost. Additionally, you can find items at consignment shops as well as Goodwill and Salvation Army stores.



Check for spelling errors! (and 7 other resume tips for the Career Fair)

A resume. The toughest one-page paper you’ll likely ever write. When done well, this document could be the ticket to your next job. When written poorly, it likely guarantees you won’t be selected for an interview.

No pressure.

With the CPCC Career Fair just three weeks away, it’s time to start polishing your resume to give you a better chance of impressing the employers.

Here are eight tips for creating a resume that employers will look at favorably.

1. Keep it to one page. Studies show you have six seconds at most to make a good impression, since that’s the average amount of time recruiters spend on a resume. A two-page resume doesn’t work with this short attention span.

2. Develop a targeted resume.  Once you know the companies you plan to visit at the Career Fair, target your resume for each of them. Best place to start is with the objective. Yes, it will be time consuming, but yes it will be worth it!

3. Start job descriptions with action verbs. Remember your composition class where you learned the importance of writing complete sentences using subjects and verbs? Put that training on hold for the resume. Start with action verbs when listing your job duties. Avoid personal pronouns. If you can say something in two words instead of five, do it.

4. Use bullet points.

  • Paragraphs are visually long and therefore a turnoff.
  • Not every item needs a bullet point.
  • Using too many bullet points ruins the effect.

5. Check for spelling errors. Grammatical and spelling errors still top the list of reasons employers reject resumes. Don’t rely on spell check. Scrutinize your resume forwards and backwards. Have someone else review for errors, too.

6. Use keywords but avoid rambling. Keywords are words or phrases specific to an industry. Employers use them the same way you use search words on Google. Make sure your resume reflects keywords for your targeted industry.

At the same time, leave out unnecessary details. The interview will be your opportunity to provide more explanation. The resume is a summary of accomplishments and qualifications.

7. Make sure the appearance is consistent and standardized. Avoid fancy fonts. Stick with the standards like Times New Roman, Arial or Calbri. Your name can appear in a slightly larger font, but keep the rest of the text within 10-11 point font size. Don’t change font sizes or styles midway through the resume. If you bold one job title bold all of them. Putting one category title in all caps? Then do so for the other category titles, too.

8. Have your resume reviewed by a Career Services career counselor. Schedule an appointment with a career counselor who can give your resume a professional review and offer tips for improvement. The Central campus office offers Drop In services (Mon-Fri 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) with no appointment necessary.

Employers are eager to talk to you about your resume next month. Is your resume ready for them?







Why attend the CPCC Career Fair & what to expect

The CPCC Career Fair is just over one month away! On Thursday March 6 employers will be at the Grady Cole Center to discuss full-time and part-time jobs as well as internship opportunities. Mark your calendar and plan to attend.

Why should I go to a career fair?

If you’re job searching, why wouldn’t you attend the job fair? This is your chance to meet employers face-to-face who are actively hiring people just like you. Online job searching has been a staple for years thanks to job boards like employmeNC and that let job seekers apply to jobs from the comforts of home. Social media has taken the online job search one step further allowing online interaction with professionals and company representatives through LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

But the chance to talk to an employer in person can’t be trumped or replaced. At the end of the day an in-person interview is how employers evaluate your candidacy for a job opening. Don’t pass up the opportunity to make a good first impression – and solidify yourself as one to be contacted for that interview. The job seeker attending the job fair has the advantage, so why shouldn’t that job seeker be you?

What can I expect at a job fair?

Be prepared for lots of people in a loud environment. Approximately 75-85 companies attend the event. They each bring two or more recruiters who spend time talking one-on-one to job seekers that number over 1,000. Each company sets up a display table. Their job is to promote their company as place you might like to work. Your job is to promote yourself as someone they might want to hire.

Anticipate long lines. CPCC students, alumni and all veterans can access the event through the VIP entrance. You may also encounter long lines at employer tables. Be patient. Remember you might meet your next employer today so it’s worth the wait.

Allow enough time. The CPCC Career Fair is open from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Depending on how many employers you plan to talk to, you could be at the event for an hour or longer. You’ll want to spend at least 5-10 minutes talking to each employer.

Start preparing now. A job fair isn’t an event you prepare for the night before. You’re going to need professional attire, a sharp resume, knowledge about the companies attending, a list of questions to ask them and a top-notch elevator speech that sells your skills and qualifications to each employer. Take the next month to get these items in order.

Visit Career Services to help you get ready for the job fair. Visit this blog over the next month for tangible tips on how to be successful at the event. Clear your class or work schedule now for March 6 to avoid conflicts and the chance to attend this event.