Career fairs are a great place to learn about professional opportunities and connect with recruiters, but that’s just the beginning of your job search. The reality is that job hunting is a process, so it’s important to work the process and continue building upon your career fair efforts with an effective follow-up plan. Continue below for more information on best practices following a career fair.
Write a Thank You Note
Immediately after a career fair, follow up with a thank you note – it’s fine to send it via email. A thank you note gives you the opportunity to reintroduce yourself to recruiters and reinforce your initial conversation. In your note, you can also include information about further actions you will take (e.g. mentioning your plans to apply for an open position or monitoring their website for future openings), or request they keep you in mind for future opportunities.
Submit Your Application
If there’s a specific position you want to be considered for, be sure to submit your application. You may wonder why you need to do this if you have already spoken with a recruiter and submitted your resume at the career fair. It’s important to understand that, like job seekers, employers have their own process, and an online application is often a necessary component of that process. By formally applying to the position online, you become an official candidate for the position and your information is put into the system so the recruiter can review it further.
When applying for a position with an employer you connected with at the career fair, remember to reference that in your cover letter or the appropriate application field. This will remind the recruiter of your prior interaction. Also keep in mind to only apply for positions you qualify for. Remember when looking at a job posting, if a qualification is listed as preferred, then there is some flexibility in meeting it, but if it is listed as required, then you must meet it fully.
If it has been a reasonable length of time, approximately 3-4 weeks or a time frame indicated at the event, and you haven’t heard from the employer, consider politely following up with a brief email restating your interest and inquiring about the employer’s decision timeline.
Continue Your Job Search
While you wait to hear about your job application, don’t get complacent! Continue your job search and prepare for future interviews. Evaluate your current skills, abilities, strengths, weaknesses, and work values. Determine your accomplishments and achievements, and work to get comfortable talking about them. Think of three or four solid examples that can demonstrate hard-to-measure qualities like judgement, initiative, teamwork, or leadership.
And, while you wait and continue your search, work on your interview skills. To improve your interview skills, I recommend utilizing two great interview preparation tools found on CareerQuest: Quinncia and InterviewStream. Quinncia uses artificial intelligence to personalize the interview and provides feedback on your content, body language, facial expressions, and tone. InterviewStream provides users the opportunity to practice common questions based on prepared interviews or you can customize your own from a database of thousands of common questions.
A job search is a multifaceted process and attending a career fair is only the beginning. After a career fair, the most important things to remember are: don’t underestimate the power of “Thank you”, be sure to apply to all the positions you are interested in, follow up if appropriate, and practice responses for future interviews.
As always, keep in mind UMGC’s Career Services is here to help you in your job search and beyond. Set up an appointment with a UMGC Career Advising Specialist.
Ann Martin is a career advising specialist at University of Maryland Global Campus where she has worked for more than five years. She holds a master’s in mental health counseling from Bowie State University. As a mid-life career changer, she feels uniquely qualified to assist adult students in transforming their lives and finding their place in the workforce.