Guide to Career Fairs

Career fairs are an opportunity for students, postdoctoral fellows, and alumni to connect with employers. You can engage with representatives from many different organizations and learn about the organization's culture, hiring practices, and current and future available job opportunities.

The U of A Career Centre hosts multiple career fairs each year. Careers Day, the largest of the fairs, is host to over 100 employers and 5,000 U of A students and alumni. Careers Day is an all-disciplines fair. Other fairs hosted by the Career Centre include the Pharmacy Career Fair, Education and Foire de education, Summer Job Fair, Arts Career Fair, and Augustana Career Fair.

Career Fairs are events where employers and professional organizations set up displays and provide information about their organizations. As an attendee, you can speak one on one with representatives of these organizations.

Preparing for Career Fairs

Set Your Intention

Career fairs are valuable to attend regardless of where you are in your degree program or your career goals. Fairs are a great opportunity to learn about different organizations and explore the career opportunities available with them, which can help spark new interests or deepen your understanding of existing career aspirations. We encourage you to consider your goals and intentions before attending a fair, such as finding a summer job or securing employment after graduation.  Our Career Advisors can help you explore your career options and prepare for career fairs.

Research attending organizations that interest you

The Career Center posts and regularly updates a list of employers attending each career fair on our website. Before the fair, you can learn about the employers who are attending and prioritize the employers you want to connect with. Based on your research, create specific questions for the employers. These questions will help you learn about their company’s culture, their recruitment and hiring process, and more. 

When researching employers, you may want to consider:

  • Their location(s)
  • Their main business purpose (ie. goods, products or services)
  • Who they serve
  • Check out their careers webpage, if applicable
  • Check out their social media (LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.)
  • Run their name through a search engine to learn about recent news and information
  • Creating a list of specific questions you have for employers is a good strategy.

Potential questions to ask employers:

  • Can you tell me more about opportunities with your organization?
  • What kind of roles have U of A grads had in your organization?
  • What kind of training or professional development programs do you offer to employees?
  • What things do you love about working with this organization?
  • What problems is your organization trying to solve?
  • Is your office working remotely, in-person, or hybrid?
    • If your office is working virtually, can I work from anywhere or do I need to be in the city in which the company is based?

Keep an open mind when researching employers. Many employers are recruiting a variety of graduates as many types of work are found across industries. For example, an IT firm hires not only computer programmers, but people to do marketing, human resources, customer service, training, etc. We encourage you to talk to a variety of organizations at career fairs. 

Update your resume and LinkedIn profile

Update, or create, your resume and LinkedIn profile before the fair; this will also help you prepare for the fair by reflecting on your experiences, skills, and interests. LinkedIn can help you stay in touch with recruiters and employers. Many employers use online application and recruitment processes, so bringing printed copies of your resume or business cards is optional.

Book a Career Advising appointment to help you create or update your resume or LinkedIn profile. 

Check out the Career Centre YouTube page for tips on how to improve your LinkedIn profile.
Create an introductory pitch that highlights your relevant experience and qualifications

Be prepared to introduce yourself and answer questions from employers at the fair. It can be helpful to create and practice an introductory pitch before the fair. This can include your name, area and year of study, and a brief description of your skills and experiences that would be relevant to the employers. 

An example introductory pitch could be:

My name is (your first and last name) and I am currently completing my (undergraduate/graduate) degree. I expect to be finished in (month/year). I have experience in (area) and am looking for opportunities where I can further develop my (type of skill) skills.

Dress for success
Dress codes and expectations vary widely between employers, industries, and locations. A trick is to see what the recruiters are wearing at the booth, this will give you an idea of what they might expect. Employers at fairs understand that you are a student and may not have the time or resources to dress formally. We encourage you to dress neatly, but avoid dressing overly casual. What’s most important is that you let your confidence shine through. Your words, your smile, and the way you carry yourself will say much more about you than the clothes you wear.

Need more help preparing for Careers Day? Attend our free seminar Making Careers Day Work for You.

During the Fair

Connect with multiple employers
Career fairs are a great way to practise your networking skills, which can help boost your confidence and improve your approach. Connect with multiple employers to practise your skills and to help you prepare to talk to the employers at the top of your list.
Ask open-ended questions
When planning questions to ask employers, ask specific questions to get the information you need, but also ensure you have a few open-ended questions to keep the conversation flowing. Unlike closed questions, open-ended questions cannot be answered with simply yes or no and require more elaboration, which is a great way of learning more about the employer from the recruiter’s perspective.
Stay in touch
Always ask the recruiter for their contact information or ask if you could connect with them on LinkedIn, which will give you the flexibility to follow up with them after the event. But if the employer said no, thank them for the conversation, respect their boundaries and do not take it personally.

After the Fair

Reflect on your conversations with employers
After the fair, review who you met, what you learned, and consider any next steps. Next steps can include connecting with employers over LinkedIn and applying for job opportunities. We can help you target your job applications and prepare for interviews, book an advising appointment.
Follow up with employers

Make note of who you spoke to and what you discussed, and be sure to follow up with them if you are interested. 

Your next steps can include:

  • Visiting the organization’s website to learn more about them and look for open job postings.
  • Check out job postings on campusBRIDGE
  • Follow the organization on social media (LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.)
  • Email the employers you connected with to ask any follow-up questions. 
  • If you were unable to connect with specific employers during the live event, make sure to access the platform before the event is taken off the website, find their contact information and reach out to  them directly. 
  • When following up, ensure you thank the employers again for their time at the fair.