The purpose of going to an ODSC Career Fair is to foster meaningful relationships and leave those distinct impressions that lead to your dream job. Candidates use career fairs to network and gather knowledge about a multitude of companies. There you have the freedom to ask questions of prospective employers, and collect hiring literature to bolster your future applications. HR teams value the opportunity to make personal connections with you, many travel long distances to set up booths and speak to attendees about their open positions. It is vital that you plan to attend at least one career fair before applying to the companies of interest. Such fairs do not run very frequently.

The opportunity to engage with hiring managers, one on one, to gain insider application process knowledge will set you apart from other applicants. ie. unique company and industry specific verbiage and philosophies. The techniques below will maximize your experience at your next ODSC Career Fair. 

See You There! 

Research Registered Employers 

You can get a huge jump on the competition by getting a list of the companies attending the fair and doing research on each company you would like to speak with – don’t waste time with companies that do not interest you. While all of the hiring representatives will have company literature at their booths at the fair, however, with so much information on these hiring companies on the web, there is no excuse not to do your homework. Be prepared, show up knowledgable.

Decide to Pre-register

ODSC encourages job-seekers to pre-register for the Career Fair by submitting a resume or signing up through our Career Services Portal. The idea behind pre-registering, of course, is to allow employers to pre-screen applicants and make note of particularly qualified applicants. Does pre-registration guarantee that you will get noticed or that employers will or even look at the registrations? No, but why would you not take advantage of such an easy step?

Shape up your Resume and Register 

Prepare for Interviews

ODSC always provides hiring representatives with a dedicated  interview room so they may schedule interviews with preferred candidates. You may only have two to five minutes to market yourself and make an impression; you need to make the most of your time. Recruiters and hiring managers often suggest that you develop a one-minute “commercial” that highlights the key benefits that you can offer the organization – you can use this to open your conversation. Also remember the three golden keys to all interviews: make eye contact, offer a firm handshake, and show enthusiasm. You should come prepared with answers to common interview questions just as you would any employment interview. The most frequently asked question at ODSC Career Fairs is something along the lines of “what are you here for today?” It seems like an easy question to answer, especially if you have done your homework and can tailor your answer to your and the company’s interests, but your ability to answer that question flawlessly can make a lasting impression. Also, it’s important that have some questions ready to ask the interviewer. A great concluding question for you to ask is, “What do I need to do to obtain a second interview with your firm?”

Edit your Resume

Bring lots of resumes to the fair – at least two for each company for which you have an interest. If you have multiple resumes aimed toward different career responsibilities, make sure you bring enough of each version. It’s recommended that you customize your resume to fit hiring company’s needs.

Develop a Strategy

Once you arrive at the ODSC Career Fair with your company research and custom resumes, you need to devise a plan of attack. The second step is seeing if any new companies have registered when you arrive at the fair, so you may adjust your priorities accordingly. The third step is surveying the layout of the fair and determining an order of interviewing. Some experts suggest meeting with your top choices first thing in the morning, interviewing with your other choices in the middle of the day, and returning to your top choices at the end of the day to thank them again for their time. That being said, remember to stay flexible as your top choices may be the top choices of many, creating long lines that you may wish to avoid.

Manage the Intangible

There are several other things you can do to help make your career fair experience a success. First, don’t interview with companies you have no desire to work for – do make sure to interview with all the companies you do want to work for. If you can, try to get some company literature from the booth before getting in line, so you can further round out your company research and adjust your approach while you wait. Lastly… if your ideal company is hiring data science positions and you want to work in business analytics, still speak with the company at the fair, and being sure to leave the interview with the contact information of the person responsible for hiring in that area – don’t be discouraged and walk away.

Dress to Impress

Network with Everyone

Career fairs are all about networking. Of course, you are building a relationship with the recruiters – this task is your most vital. However, you can also network with your fellow job-seekers in terms of sharing information about job leads, companies, and their recruiting strategies and styles. There may be someone searching for a new job whose current company is hiring for their and/or other positions; don’t miss out on making those referral opportunities. You never know what conversation will lead you to your next dream job.

Follow-up with all your new contacts, especially Key Recruiters

Do not take the order of this guide to mean that this step is the least important – in fact, it may be the most important. You would be surprised at how few job-seekers actually take the time to follow-up with their career fair interviewers. If you do follow-up, you will get an edge over the many others who do not. This gives you a chance to reiterate your interest in a second interview. Finally, do check the opendatascience.com job board frequently as these attending companies (and many others) will promote jobs there that may suit you!

Register and start your Research