What are Career Fairs?
Career Fairs (sometimes referred to as job fairs) are usually larger scale events where many employers come in-person to promote their hiring.
Online career fairs were popular during the pandemic and some fairs have continued to be online.
The UTM Career Centre organizes two in-person career fairs annually (Get Hired Fair) - one in September and one in January. As these are large scale events, it can feel overwhelming the first time. The Career Centre will always have staff available to help you at our Get Hired Fairs.
Why Attend Career Fairs?
- A great opportunity to speak one-on-one with employers
- To find out what skills, education, experience and qualities employers are looking for
- To learn about the range of career paths available to you upon graduation
- To give employers a chance to know about you, so they may remember you when they are recruiting
- To find out about potential job opportunities: full-time, part-time and summer
- To gather information about organizations you may be interested in working for
- To network with employers who are there to speak with UTM students
1. Research Your Field of Interest
Find out in advance which companies will be attending the fair. Research the organization and the industry that you want to focus on.
Do not forget to also find out more about the careers you are interested in pursuing. The more information you have, the more prepared you will be to speak to the representatives. Start with some of the following resources:
Consult the Occupational Binders in our Career Resource Library, on Career Cruising, or the electronic career guide in the Career Learning Network. Drop by DV 3094 between 10am-4pm, Monday-Friday for assistance with your research.
Doing your research ahead of time allows you to demonstrate to recruiters that you are interested in their organization and are well prepared. It also puts you in the best position to avoid answers such as "visit our website." Some things you can do include:
- Checking to see which organizations are attending the fair. This information is listed on the Career Centre’s website. Decide which ones you would like to target.
- Visit the organization’s website for job posting details.
- Search Canada Newswire for recent press releases by various industry.
- Use these Resources and Links to research organizations online.
- Download a copy of our Company Research Tip Sheet
2. Plan Your Approach
Practice a 30-second introduction outlining your skills to introduce yourself to representatives. Consider the following:
- Demonstrate your interest and knowledge of the organization
- Pick 3-5 priority organizations to make sure you speak with them
- Where possible, avoid going to your top 2-3 organizations right away. Give yourself some time to warm up and practice what you are saying
- Communicate what skills you would bring to the company using your experience as evidence to support your claims. You can learn more about what skills you have by using our Skills Articulation Modules.
- In addition to academic qualities, many employers are seeking well-rounded students who show leadership and involvement in a university or community environment
- Be prepared to talk about what you want or expect in a career. Many students don’t know what they want until after they graduate. However, thinking about this as you prepare for the fair can help clarify at least some things for you, and show employers that you have some direction. If you’re not sure where to start, speaking with one of our Career Counsellors can help.
3. Have Your Questions Ready
Come prepared with specific questions, clear goals, and an idea of what it is you want from the day. Ask career-oriented and company-specific questions. Need some examples? Below is a sampling of questions you could ask the recruiters. Do not limit yourself to these questions alone. Ask your own questions and don’t forget to take notes.
- I’ve read the job descriptions that you have posted. Can you tell me more about ...
- What advice do you have for a University graduate entering this field?
- How is the company responding to … ? (fill in a current relevant news item)
- What are the opportunities and alternatives for career advancement?
- Are there internship opportunities in this field?
- What kind of work experience, either part-time or summer, will be helpful to me to prepare for this career?
- What are the priorities for the organization right now? That is, what are the top five things you would like to accomplish in the next six months? In the next five years?
- What are the three things you find most challenging about your job?
- I’ve seen that the company values X in your company culture. How do you achieve these goals?
- Does your company have training programs for its employees?
- What extra-curricular activities do you recommend I pursue to help me prepare for this field?
4. Dress Appropriately
Professionalism is key. Present yourself as if attending a job interview. This is your opportunity to make a lasting positive impression. Give thought to what you will wear. Aim for a neat and polished look, including well-groomed hair. Please review our Dress for Success tips.
5. Bring Your Updated Resume
Some employers who participate in career fairs will accept resumes at the event. Check our website in advance for details on who will be collecting resumes. Have copies of your updated resume available in case representatives ask for one. For companies that are accepting resumes, don’t just drop one-off and walk away - introduce yourself and express your interest in the organization. This will help the employer get to know you and not what is stated on paper.
Need resume help? Sign up for the Resume and Cover Letter workshop to get a grasp of the basics then come in for an individual 30-minute resume or cover letter critique. Also, be sure to check out the Resume and Cover Letter Resources on our website.
If you have a LinkedIn profile, remember to update it before the fair. Check out our Using LinkedIn tipsheet.
6. Interacting with Employers
Remember that the goal is to have a professional business conversation. Keep the following suggestions in mind to ensure that you make a professional impression on the recruiters you meet:
- Greet the representative with a friendly hello and tell them your name (first and last)
- Begin the conversation with some small talk. Small talk can include light or informal discussion topics like the weather. Examples at a job fair could include “did you get caught in the rain today?; have you been on campus before?;, did you see last night’s baseball game?;” or it can be as simple as “how are you doing today?”.
- You can greet the representative with a firm handshake, smile and make eye contact. Of course, if you are unable to initiate physical contact for religious, cultural or health reasons (including COVID-19), consider introducing yourself and focus on eye contact.
- Focus on making a good first impression by listening carefully to the employer. A great result for you is the opportunity to speak with them again.
- Pace yourself. This will ensure that you have the opportunity to meet with all the representatives you intended to meet.
- Be courteous. Don’t monopolize the recruiter’s time. Remember that representatives will probably be seeing hundreds of students. Please be understanding of their situation and try to be patient.
- Take the time to find out what the company is looking for. Don’t just hand in a resume without taking the time to interact with the representative.
- Avoid travelling in packs. While it can feel more comfortable to walk around with friends, it can make it harder for the employer to remember you as an individual. We recommend that you work your way through the fair on your own to avoid distractions. If you feel that you need to walk through the fair with someone else, we suggest that you work in pairs and make sure that both you and your partner introduce yourselves individually and ask questions.
- Ask for their business card or permission to add them on LinkedIn, follow-up procedure and a suggested time frame to follow up.
- Thank the representative for their time.
- Tip: once the conversation is over, find a quiet place to write down some notes about what you learned. This will help you when it's time to follow-up.
7. After The Fair
If employers are accepting applications after the fair (as some do), take the time to tailor your resume and cover letter. You can determine what’s important for the position through your interactions with employers as well as from the job postings themselves (at the fair, on the company’s website, or from the CLNx postings). If you already handed in your resume at the fair, don’t assume that you’ll be guaranteed an interview. Write a thank-you note and send it to the employer via email. This is an effective way to reintroduce yourself to the employer. The Career Centre hosts two fairs annually, the Get Hired Fair, and the Graduate & Professional Schools Fair. Read more about Fairs at UTM.
Looking For More Information?
• Take a look at the various career fair binders in the Career Resource Library (Get the Most out of Career Fairs; Get Hired Fair and Other Campus Career Fair binders)
• Attend a Networking workshop
• Meet with a Career Counsellor to explore your career interests and narrow down your choices
• Consult with an Employment Strategist to plan your approach and practice what you will say. Please note that this information is subject to change. It is best to refer to the original sources for the most up-to-date information.
Updated July 2023