How to talk to employers at the Career Fair

It’s almost go time! The CPCC Career Fair is next week. Hopefully by now a career counselor has reviewed your resume (if not, email it to Career Services to receive feedback) and you’ve been researching and identifying companies you plan to meet with at the event.

What are you going to say to the recruiters at the fair?

Don’t walk up to a recruiter’s table and wait for them to start the conversation. Additionally, don’t just hand them your resume and walk away.

How you interact with employers can make or break your chances of landing an interview. Use the following steps – Start, State, Summarize, Seek – to increase your chances of receiving that email or phone call inviting you for an interview.

Start with hello, a firm handshake and an introduction. Give your name, academic program and your anticipated graduation date.

State your hook. The hook grabs the recruiter’s attention. It sparks their interest and encourages them to listen further and ask questions. Some sample hooks include:

  • “I’m really interested in talking to you about why my skills and qualifications match the positions you’re recruiting for.”
  • “I’ve researched your company and the job opportunities and I’d like to talk to you about how my qualifications best fit your needs.”
  • “I’m so happy to be able to talk with you. Your company is one of particular interest to me and I’d like to tell you why.”
  • “Your company is one that I’m very interested in joining. My education and skills set really match the qualifications you’re seeking.”

Summarize your skills in a 30 second PR pitch. Some call it an elevator speech; others call it a PR pitch. Either way, it’s a brief mention of the qualifications you can bring to the company. Practice this pitch before the career fair! Use the Career Services elevator speech guidelines to help.

Seek out information about the company. In other words, ask questions! Ask open-ended questions that show you’ve done your research and want to know more.

At the end of your conversation, thank the recruiter for their time, shake hands again and say you look forward to hearing from them. Ask for a business card – you’ll need it for follow up correspondence later.

Spend the next week practicing your handshake, eye contact, hook and PR pitch. Doing so will help ease some of your nerves the day of the event.




11 ways to create a career fair-friendly resume

When you attend the CPCC Career Fair next month, bring enough copies of your resume to give to employers of interest.

Career fairs are busy. Recruiters won’t have time to read your resume. They’ll glance at it – six seconds at the most.

Follow these tips to help you create a resume that will catch employers’ attention in a short timeframe.

Target the resume to the company: Research companies ahead of time to know which ones you’re interested in. Your objective and skills sections should match the positions and skills the company is seeking.

Use an Objective to specify your career interests and qualifications: An objective that includes the position of interest, company name and a quick mention of your background snags the recruiter’s attention.  

Create a skills category: Employers already know the skills they’re looking for. By doing company research you can know which skills they’re seeking. Make sure your skills category reflects this information.  

Avoid fancy fonts: They’re distracting. Standard fonts such as Times New Roman, Arial or Calibri work best.

Keep it to one page in length: Unless you are a seasoned worker with years of relevant experience, your resume shouldn’t exceed one page.

Make sure the Education section clearly shows the college’s name, what you’re earning (degree, certificate, etc.), program (Criminal Justice Technology, Cosmetology, etc.) and graduation date:  Employers searching for candidates from specific programs immediately look for this information.

List your contact information at the top; don’t forget your phone number and email address: If you have a LinkedIn profile, this would be a great place to list your LinkedIn url.   

Use bullet points instead of paragraphs: Employers don’t have time to read a paragraph describing your job duties. Use bullet points that quickly summarize the same information.

Ditch the “I” statements and start with action verbs: Employers want to know what you did so don’t waste any time telling them. Use a variety of action verbs to convey duties and responsibilities.

Plug in numbers wherever you can: Numbers visually break up the resume presentation. Additionally, they can market your qualifications. List a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Mention the number of calls you field in your current call center job. Discuss the amount of sales you contribute to the restaurant in your server role.  

Check for typos: They’re still one of the biggest reasons why employers reject candidates.

Use sample resumes as guidelines. Have a CPCC Career Services career counselor professional critique your resume before the Career Fair to make sure you’re clearly and concisely marketing your qualifications.

Don’t believe these 8 myths about Career Fairs!

Attending a career fair can seem intimidating. Events like the CPCC Career Fair host many employers and attract thousands of job seekers. But often the intimidation stems from myths about career fairs. Let’s set the record straight.

Myth #1: Career Fairs are only for graduating students and alumni.

Reality: Many companies attending the CPCC Career Fair are looking for interns and part-time employees. Current students, this means you! Additionally, undergraduates attending the fair to meet employers and begin networking in their field make a great impression on recruiters.

Myth #2: None of the companies attending are hiring for my program/career interests.

Reality: With over 95 companies attending this year’s event, it’s quite likely your career interests are represented. Use the link that lists attending employers to research which programs companies are targeting. Programs in business, health care, hospitality, technology and more are in great demand.

Myth #3: Professional dress isn’t really necessary since this isn’t a job interview.

Reality: Not only is it necessary, it’s required. Job seekers will not be permitted into the Grady Cole Center unless they’re dressed professionally. You want to make a positive impression at the fair to be contacted for a job interview after the event. Professional dress makes or breaks this impression.

Myth #4: I can just show up the day of the event, no preparation is really needed.

Reality: Students who come to the event unprepared aren’t as successful as those who do. Three key ingredients to career fair are a top-notch resume, a solid employer pitch and effective company research. The Career Services career fair tips page offers ideas for all. Email your resume to a career counselor for a professional critique or schedule an appointment to meet in person.

Myth #5: People don’t get job offers after talking to recruiters at a career fair.

Reality: While job offers aren’t typically given the day of the event, solid candidates can expect follow up emails or phone calls inviting them for interviews. With so many job searching resources out there, career fairs are still ranked as one of the top recruiting tools by students and employers alike.

Myth #6: If I attend, all I have to do is give my resume to the recruiter.

Reality: This approach guarantees your resume gets placed in the “no” pile. With a confident smile and firm handshake, introduce yourself and offer your elevator speech that explains both your interest in the company and your qualifications for the job opportunities. Doing so catches the recruiter’s attention.

Myth #7: With over 90 companies attending, it’s too overwhelming and pointless.

Reality: The idea of visiting over 95 company tables is overwhelming. But a targeted approach makes the event more manageable. Not every company has opportunities that you’re interested in or qualified for. Research companies ahead of time. Figure out which ones are recruiting your background. Use this information to map out a plan of recruiters you’ll talk to.

Myth #8: My skills and background don’t match what companies are looking for.

Reality: Don’t judge a company by its name. You might be surprised where your qualifications match.  And you won’t know unless you attend.

Preparation is key to a successful career fair. Now that your career fair fears have been dispelled, get busy getting ready for next month’s event!



The CPCC Career Fair is coming!

The CPCC Career Fair is coming! Mark your calendars for Thursday March 5, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Employers searching for candidates from a variety of programs will be at the Grady Cole Center (next to the Central Campus) recruiting for job openings.

This is the college’s prime career event.

Here’s what you need to know:

Who should attend the Career Fair?

Job seekers looking for full-time jobs. Job seekers commonly complain about having to blindly submit resumes online with no chance to meet recruiters in person. Here’s your chance! If you’re graduating, are a CPCC alumni or a current student searching for a full-time job, the Career Fair is an opportunity to talk to employers actively seeking candidates.

Candidates seeking part-time jobs, internships or co-op positions. Many employers at the fair are also hiring for part-time jobs as well as internship or co-op positions with their companies. The time to search for summer positions starts now.

Students wanting to network with employers in their industry. Begin building your network now for your job search later. Employers will be impressed with your enthusiasm and knowledge of the importance of networking.

What should I know before attending the Career Fair?

Professional dress is required. People not wearing professional attire won’t be admitted to the fair. Visit the Career Services Pinterest board for tips on how to dress professionally.

VIP Access for CPCC students & alumni, as well as all military service members and veterans. Students and alumni can present their CPCC ID and military service members and veterans can present their military ID to gain admission through the VIP entrance. This helps avoid long lines.

Get your resume ready. Employers accept or reject resumes within seven seconds. Make sure you’re presenting a top-notch resume that gets placed in the recruiter’s “Yes” pile. Schedule an appointment with a career counselor to have your resume reviewed. Use the online Career Guide for resume tips, guidelines and samples.

You need an elevator speech. This is the pitch you give to employers when you approach their table. Start practicing how you’ll confidently shake hands and clearly tell the recruiter your skills and interest in their company. A career counselor can help you develop your elevator speech.

The Career Fair is crowded. Last year over 90 companies attended the Career Fair. This year will be the same. Research companies ahead of time to target the employers you want to speak with. Clear your work and class schedule to allow enough time to attend the event.

What resources can help prepare for the Career Fair?

Career Services Blog. Check back each week before the career fair for helpful tips.

Watch the video “Prepare for the CPCC Career Fair.” Dr. Connie Johnston in the CPCC Career Services Office offers five great suggestions for making the most of the event.

Check out other online resources. Our Career Fair page offers additional information to help get ready.

Meet with a career counselor. Career counselors can answer any questions about the fair, review your resume, help you prepare your elevator speech and more. Schedule an appointment today.