In-Person Career Fairs – How Do We Transition Back to In-Person?

The last two years have absolutely had an impact on how businesses recruit. And while virtual career fairs will likely remain as a networking avenue, in-person events are starting to come back. A lot of candidates preparing to enter the workforce may only have experience with virtual events at this point in their careers. So what can you do to adjust to in-person events to be a memorable prospect? Some tips that I would suggest include:

Use Your Surroundings
Do the visiting firms have flyers or posters with them that spark questions? Take advantage of props or informational pieces the firm brought with them to start conversations or ask informed questions. Are there groups surrounding one firm’s table? Join in if you feel timid speaking with a firm representative one-on-one.

Read the Room (or Booth)
Are there any firms without other prospects visiting their table? Use that as an advantage to put yourself out there. Additionally, if there are more than one person from each firm, engage with a few firm representatives to gain different perspectives on the same firm.

Dress The Part
No more hiding behind your computer screen — it’s officially time to pull out the professional clothes. Wearing a professional, well-fitting outfit will get you in the right mindset and boost your confidence.

Bring Your Resume (Yes, Really)
Bring your resume and be prepared to pick up business cards when interacting with various firms. In-person events may not offer the luxury of being able to upload a resume to a dropbox. Additionally, giving a physical item to firm representatives will make you more memorable. Taking a card with the information of the specific person you spoke with is extremely useful as you can send a follow-up email to ask any questions or simply send a thank you. This will also help you stay on their radar.

Optimize Your Visit ROI
Make it a goal to visit as many firms as possible. A major difference between virtual career fairs and in-person events is that some virtual events automatically place participants in breakout rooms with all attending firms. At an in-person event, it is up to you to visit the firms and make the effort to engage with the firm representatives. Even if a particular firm doesn’t pique your interest, visiting the representatives will either be good practice for a firm you are more drawn to, or you could be pleasantly surprised and discover that a particular firm aligns with what you’re looking for in employment.

Enjoy No Pressure Conversations
A benefit to in-person events over virtual events is that you can decide how long you’d like to talk to a firm representative. Really hitting it off and the conversation is flowing? No need to worry about breakout rooms rotating or glitchy video calls cutting off your interaction. On the flip side, if a dialogue isn’t going anywhere, there is no pressure to keep talking to the other party for an allotted amount of time.

Of course, some career fair tips are relevant, no matter if it’s a virtual or in-person event. Some recommendations for both platforms include:

Do Your Homework
Always do your homework beforehand. Research the firms in attendance by visiting their websites, social media pages, and most importantly, read their open job descriptions.

Have Questions Ready
 Come up with some general questions that you can ask each firm you visit. Ideally, ask questions that will help you determine if the firm sounds like a good fit for you. Here are some examples:

  • What is the firm culture like?
  • How often do you travel to clients?
  • What does a typical day for an intern/staff/senior look like?

As a final note, always do what makes you comfortable. If you’d prefer remote events, take advantage of the virtual options. This also applies to the interview process, be sure to let the other party know if you’d prefer virtual interviews or masks to be worn.

While the idea of moving from remote to in-person may seem daunting, use this as an opportunity to promote yourself and make genuine connections with future potential employers. Good luck to all during recruiting season!