Top 5 Career Fair Tips for Community College Students

by Chad Agrawal

Community College Students At Career FairIn a tough job market, it's nice to know that there's still a way to arrange for face-to-face meetings with people who have the power to hire you.

Although it's awfully hard to get interviews, especially with very little experience on your résumé (or none at all), career fairs give community college transfer students the opportunity to shake hands with prospective employers, make network connections for the future, and even get feedback on what is working (and what isn't).

But in order to take full advantage of these events you need to put your best foot forward.

So here are just a few tips that could help you to nab a job or at least be considered for future employment (when you get a degree, for example).

1. Create a great résumé (and bring plenty of copies).

Your résumé is your calling card; it is what hiring agents will use to determine whether or not you get the job, ultimately.

While there might not be a lot you can do to add to the work experience section during your time in community college classes, there are plenty of ways to flesh out a résumé in order to make it more attractive to employers.

You'll want to start with any charity work, notable activities (sports teams, forensics, etc.), and awards (academic letter in music or math, for example).

And then you can add special skills that employers will find attractive (like a solid knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite, a proclivity for web design, or even your personal blogging experience).

Of course, this will only really impress a prospective employer if the delivery is flawless, so take the time to comb through your résumé for errors (spelling, grammatical, etc.) before you begin printing off copies.

2. Dress appropriately.

Showing up yesterday's rumpled jeans and a t-shirt that may or may not be clean is the wrong way to approach a hiring situation.

You want the people you speak with to see that you are capable of operating in a professional environment, and that starts with dressing the part.

So at the very least you need to don office casual attire (slacks, button-down shirt, and a tie for men, and slacks/skirt and a nice blouse for women).

Take the time to tidy up (fix your hair, makeup, etc.) and practice a winning smile.

3. Don't underestimate eye contact.

Most employers won't list confidence as a prerequisite for hire, but they're definitely going to be more interested in a candidate that is sure of himself.

Not only will making eye contact instantly make you more compelling, it could also make you more memorable (as will including a photo on your résumé).

Applicants that look anywhere but at the interviewer's face may come across as nervous, disinterested, or even shady.

But looking someone in the eye shows that you are honest and relaxed, which speaks well for your ability to deal with pressure at the very least.

4. Relax!

Interviewers expect students to be nervous, especially in a career fair situation, where they may only have a few moments to shine.

But if you're stuttering and sweating like stuck pig you're bound to alarm the person you're sliming with your handshake.

Whether you practice breathing techniques or drink some herbal tea beforehand, find a way to at least appear calm and collected and you're more likely to make a good impression.

5. Keep your eye on the prize.

Although most students go to career fairs in search of a job, keep in mind that a career is your ultimate goal.

So don't give up if the first person you talk to doesn't seem to like you.

These events can serve as valuable learning tools if you let them, helping you to hone your interview skills and figure out what looks best on your résumé.

So whether you'd like to get a job after transferring from community college to Ivy League or you're planning to look at online MBA degrees, career fairs could be just one more step toward getting you to your dream job.

This post was written by Chad Agrawal

Chad Agrawal is the founder of CCTS, helping students transfer from community college to Ivy League, tier 1 or anywhere else by following this community college guide.

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