Career fair preparation

Career fairs are events that connects McMaster students and alumni with employers to provide information to students, about their respective companies and organizations. Most importantly, they provide information about their recruiting process.
August 3, 2022

Although some companies will not be actively recruiting, they are still looking for potential employees to hire in the future. Therefore, make the best first impression possible! 

Why should you attend?

  • An opportunity to gather information about employers who hire McMaster students/alumni for a variety of positions, including: co-ops, internships, summer and full-time positions. 
  • A chance to research a company you may be interested in working for. 
  • Learn where your skill set will fit and about key qualifications/skills you could develop to enhance your marketability. 
  • A forum to talk with employers about their career paths 
  • To network and make contacts and begin to build relationships with employers. If you are early in your studies, it will enable you to have a head start when looking for employment. 
  • Update your resume and cover letter and have it critiqued.
  • Update your LinkedIn profile. Be sure to request to connect with your new contacts after.
  • Create a business card to leave a lasting impression.
  • Research the companies attending the fair using OSCARplus, company websites, social media; business magazines, talk to people who work there. Showing potential employers that you have knowledge about and an interest in their company is a great way to make a positive first impression. If in need of accommodation, research companies’ accessibility initiatives.
  • Once you have researched the companies and identified the ones that are of most interest to you, prepare a set of questions that you will ask at the fair. Examples:
  • What are the main skills (soft and technical) that your organization looks for in candidates for X role?
  • What makes a person successful in this role and/or organization?
  • What advice do you have for university students/graduates regarding getting into this field? Are there professional networking opportunities you would recommend?
  • How would you describe the culture of the organization?
  • Mention what you’ve learned about the organization and ask a related, relevant question.
  • Questions should not pertain to salary, benefits; they are not appropriate for this setting.

Prepare your pitch

  • Prepare your 30 second or less introduction. This is a “snapshot” of you that the representative can use to understand who you are, what you do and what you are looking for, including your interest in the company. 
  • Practice introducing yourself and get feedback. Be yourself.

First impressions count!  

  • Dress Appropriately – Business Casual or Business Formal 
  • Give a firm handshake 
  • Make eye contact 
  • Speak clearly 
  • Smile! 

Bring the essentials: copies of your resume, a portfolio (if applicable), business cards, pen and paper. 

When meeting potential employers, remember:

  • Ask key questions that you have prepared. Ask about accommodation and disclosure if needed. 
  • Show that you are a good listener through eye contact. Give 100% of your attention to build rapport effectively. 
  • Present yourself positively and confidently. 
  • Do not use negative words to describe your previous employment experiences. 
  • Find out the hiring process for the company. 
  • Do not monopolize the representative’s time. Check in with them and excuse yourself to end the conversation to allow others a chance. Obtain follow up information, if possible. 
  • After conversation ends, discreetly record details of your conversation to be used later in follow up. 

This event is not being held for individual, formal interviews, but rather to allow important contacts with companies looking to hire McMaster graduates and/or students. 

Simply attending the fair and handing out your resume is not going to land you that highly-coveted job; you must follow up with companies that provided you contact information and business cards.

When you contact the organization, provide them with your name, the school you attend, the program you are in, where you met, and why you are contacting them. Be sure to provide them with your own contact information at the end of the follow-up.

  • If providing an e-mail address, make sure it is a professional one, such as smithj@mcmaster.ca – angelstar@hotmail.com will not suffice!
  • Invite the individual to connect on LinkedIn with a personalized invite message. Look for opportunities to develop and maintain the connection.

Build your career skills

  • Career centres and the SSC offer workshops in resume writing, skills, interviewing, accommodation, disclosure, etc. Get an edge over the competition and hone your job search skills. 
  • Keep up to date with OSCARplus about on-campus recruiting sessions that give you face time with employers during the whole year.