Below are recommendations from the employers
who led the 2005, 2006, & 2007 “How to Make the Most of a Career
Presentation Employers: 21st Century Mortgage, Northwestern Mutual Financial
Services, TVA, Enterprise-Rent-A-Car, Shaw Industries, Unum Group
Career Day is for all UTC students
Freshman, sophomores, juniors, and graduate students can meet with
employers about summer jobs, internships, and co-op jobs in order to get
work experience while they are in school.
Seniors and graduate students nearing graduation can meet with
employers who want to hire them upon graduation.
Ideally, a student should start attending career fairs as a freshman to learn
about opportunities and to practice talking to employers.
It is never too early to start a job search!
When you meet an employer be:
Confident as well as comfortable with yourself (this will come from
being fully prepared!)
Sure to make eye contact
Aware of your body language (stand up straight, don’t cross your arms
while you speak)
Aware of your speech (don’t use slang, adopt a confident tone of voice)
One recruiter’s advice: “Look good, smell good, talk good.” (Keep
reading and you will understand.)
Project a professional appearance.
Be well groomed and dressed.
Wear a business casual outfit (khaki pants and a golf shirt or sports coat
for men and dress pants and top for women) or dress as you would for
an interview. Women should avoid short skirts and tight tops. Opt for
If you are really serious about finding a job, wear a suit. If you are
interested in companies or fields (e.g. banking, accounting) that require
more formal dress or if you are really serious about finding a job (especially
a post-graduation job), you will want to dress up more (e.g. a suit) as well as
dress more conservatively. One common saying is “Dress for the job you
want, not the one you have.”
You don’t have to spend a lot on an interview suit. Go to department
stores and get suits and sports coats on sale. If you need help shopping for
one or finding out about a good sale, ask a store sales clerk. Be sure that
you are comfortable in your interview outfit. Try it on and wear it before the
morning of the career fair so that you can be sure that you know how to put
on your tie and that everything fits. You don’t want employers to see you
look uncomfortable or fidgety in your outfit. It may sound funny but if
needed, find an event or opportunity before the career fair that will allow you
to practice wearing your career day clothes. If you don’t have a pair of dress
shoes, invest in those as well. Don’t wear tennis shoes or other casual
shoes to a career fair. (See the UTC Co-op web site at
www.utc.edu/coopeduc for more information about more formal interview
Don’t wear a baseball or winter hat.
Don’t chew gum.
Don’t smoke before the career fair.
Make sure that your clothes are ironed and in good shape. Shine your
Beware of distracting fashion habits that keep the employer from
focusing on you as a professional job candidate. For example, for the
career fair take out facial and tongue piercings. Also take out excess
earrings if you have many piercings in each ear. To be safe, limit all
excessive accessories, including large jewelry and handbags. Finally, be
sure that you have taken your sunglasses off your head and your I-Pod
from around your neck.
Men- unless you have a beard or mustache, be sure to shave for the
Don’t put on too much cologne or perfume- it can be offensive.
If you need a haircut, get one before the career fair.
If it is raining, don’t carry dripping umbrellas into a career fair. Find a
place to store your umbrella instead.
Turn off your cell phone & pagers! Also, don’t answer your cell phone
when speaking with an employer. Because cell phones can be so
distracting, leave your cell phone in your room or car or keep it out of
Don’t go to a career fair just for the giveaways- recruiters call it being
“a career fair scavenger”. Treat the fair seriously and use it as a good
opportunity to meet employers as well as find out more about companies
and available jobs. Plus, recruiters notice if you are more interested in the
giveaways than you are their company.
Don’t travel in a pack- “eagles don’t flock”. If you go to the career fair
with a group of friends, separate and visit with the employers
independently. You are more likely to be remembered if you are alone
and also you are showing your independence and confidence.
Take career fairs seriously. Do your homework, dress appropriately, and
show the employers that you are a prepared, mature job seeker.
Companies and their recruiters spend money and time to attend college
career fairs. They take them seriously and attend them because they have
jobs to fill. They expect you too take them seriously too.
What to bring:
Copies of your concise, updated, proofed resume.
Be sure to bring multiple copies of your resume to give to the
employers that interest you.
Put your resume on nice cream or gray colored resume paper.
(Available at WalMart, UTC Bookstore, etc.)
Make sure that your resume is concise and has been updated
recently. (E.g. Make sure that your contact information, GPA,
expected graduation date, and employment dates are still correct.)
Your education section should be in the first section of your
resume before work and extracurricular experiences.
Recruiters recommend too that you highlight successful academic
and extracurricular projects as well as relevant skills and
Highlight your leadership experiences on your resume. Many
employers are recruiting for their next generation of company leaders
and they want to know that you have the qualities of a leader.
Don’t omit jobs from your resume because you think that they
aren’t relevant to the jobs being offered by career fair employers.
Recruiters recognize that skills honed and experience gained in a
waitress/waiter position, for example, can be used in their companies.
For example, waiting tables shows that you have physical stamina,
work well with people, and can multitask. In addition, being able to
work to put yourself through school is another accomplishment that
you should highlight.
Most recruiters recommend a one-page resume because it is more
concise and easier to read. Most college students can fit all of their
information on one page.
Save your money and don’t worry about giving an employer your
resume in a folder. The recruiters will remove your resume from the
folder and just add it to the stack of other resumes.
Finally, make sure that there are NO MISTAKES in your resume. Ask
at least a couple of people to proof it for you and/or ask someone in
the UTC Office of Placement and Student Employment or the UTC
Office of Cooperative Education to proof it for you. Recruiters and
hiring managers will notice ANY & ALL mistakes on your resume and
will assume that it is an example of the quality of work you would
perform at their companies. Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare,
update, proof, and make copies of your resume.
Personal business cards are probably not worth the money.
Recruiters will just staple it to your resume and it is impossible to get much
relevant information on a card anyway.
Try not to bring your backpack into a career fair. You look more
professional without it so leave it in your car or in your room if possible.
If you can, use a portfolio to carry your resumes and career fair
handouts. (At UTC Career Day, the registration desk will provide you with
a plastic bag to carry the company giveaways and handouts.)
An employer may ask you about courses that you have taken in college.
As a result, you may want to have a transcript or rap sheet with you.
Don’t give it to employers to keep but have it handy if they want to see it.
Do your homework before you go:
Do some soul searching so that you know what kind of job you are
seeking. You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do at a
company but don’t tell an employer that you are willing to do anything.
Your goal should be to tell recruiters what you could bring to their
companies and how you see yourself helping their companies. In
addition, have a basic career plan that you can communicate. For
example, know what industry interests you, whether you want to work for a
large or small company, and in what part of the country you might want to
Strive to stand out. Also consider what makes you stand out as a
candidate. It could be your GPA, your major, internship or co-op
experience, foreign language competency, your leadership experiences
and/or courses you have taken or are taking. Be able to verbalize to an
employer what makes you special.
Be realistic about the kind of job and salary that you can get while in
college or immediately after college. It is good to have long-term career
goals but understand that you cannot achieve them with your first job.
You will be disappointed if you think differently. Take advantage of the
opportunities available to you now and view them as a step towards your
ultimate goals. To understand what constitutes a reasonable salary in a
given industry, refer to web sites like www.salary.com or the U.S.
Department of Labor web site. Remember, however, that you shouldn’t
discuss salaries with an employer until you are later in the job selection
process (e.g. a finalist for the position). In addition, realize that your
compensation package includes your salary as well as your benefits and
Research the companies that really interest you. (Go to their Web
sites, look at the “researching a company” section of the UTC Co-op site
at www.utc.edu/coopeduc, talk to professionals in the UTC Student
Placement & Employment Office). When you speak to the employer
representatives, say things that show you have taken the time to research
their companies. On the Career Day employer list, you will find that each
company has indicated majors for which it is currently recruiting. Don’t
limit yourself, however, to only the employers listing your major. If you are
interested in that company, go ahead and approach its career fair recruiter
about opportunities in your major. The company may have positions in
your major available in the future and consider you for them. Once you
have visited with your chosen companies, try talking to someone not on
your list. You might be surprised by opportunities that you did not know
Don’t wait for the recruiters to speak to you. Shake their hands and
introduce yourself. Prepare an introduction (basically name, major, and
what you are looking for) such as: “I am John Smith, a Junior Chemistry
major at UTC, and I am looking for a Summer 2006 internship in the
chemical industry. I know that your company is a leader in the local
chemical industry, and I was wondering if you might have any internship
opportunities available.” Complimenting the company (“I know that your
company is a leader in the local chemical company”) in the introduction is
also a good idea and can be a good way to show the recruiter that you
have done your research.
Remember that you have a short time to speak with recruiters so be sure
to let them know succinctly why they should be interested in you as a job
candidate. Recruiters refer to this brief (e.g. one minute) introduction as
“an elevator speech.” Imagine yourself alone in an elevator with the
CEO of your dream company. Your “elevator speech” is what you would
say to take advantage of this opportunity. Your goal is to make yourself
memorable and hopefully make this person want to hire you.
Be able to carry on a two-way conservation with the employers. Once
you have given your introduction, you still have to hold a conversation with
the employer. Be prepared to talk and have questions about the company
and its jobs prepared. The recruiters want to know that you are a good
communicator and you only have 3-5 minutes to prove it. The recruiters
are also trying to find out if you have good interpersonal skills so that they
can know if you will fit in their company and whether they would want you
for a coworker. Therefore, be personable and be yourself while still trying
to be professional.
Sometimes you can prepare an introduction and questions that you
want to ask but you still go blank when you begin to speak. The
employers say don’t worry and think that you have blown your chance to
be interviewed or work for this company. Experienced recruiters will start
the conversation and ask you questions. It just helps you to stand out if
you initiate the conversation, have questions, etc. (Also, it may help to
write out your introductions and questions and then if needed you can look
at them before you approach the recruiters.)
Make a separate resume for the employers that really interest you.
For example, if you are interested in the internship at Enterprise-Rent-A-
Car put as your resume objective: “To obtain a management trainee
internship with Enterprise-Rent-A-Car.”
Practice your handshake and make sure that it is firm.
Maximize your time at a career fair by coming up with a list of about 12
Career Day employers that you definitely want to meet. Designate 6 as
your top choices and then a second tier of your next 6 choices. (Check out
the list of UTC Career Day employer participants and the majors they are
seeking under Calendar of Recruitment/Career Days/Events at
Go to the UTC Placement and Student Employment Office (University
Center 315) and get a free copy of Job Choices, a magazine from
NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) for additional
information about preparing for a career fair, writing resumes, etc.
Show your passion for a company or a field of work by being
enthusiastic and inquisitive when you meet with Career Day recruiters.
Work to overcome your nervousness so that you can communicate to an
employer your interest in their company. Recruiters are more likely to
remember you and maybe even offer you an interview if you show your
enthusiasm and interest.
While at the career fair:
Strive to stand out (in a good way!) Use all of this handout advice to
make a good first impression. At the end of the day, recruiters only
remember a small percentage of the career fair attendees. Make sure
employers remember you as a great potential job candidate. Also, some
recruiters say they decide within the first minute of speaking to a career
fair attendee whether he/she is right for their company. Telling a relevant
story and a little bit about you may help a recruiter remember you too.
Make sure you know how to apply for available jobs. Ask the
employer if he/she has not told you how to do so.
Don’t be a career fair nomad! You have prepared for Career Day so
don’t let your nerves take over when you arrive at the fair. Employers
notice those students who wander around the career fair room but don’t
really ever talk to them. Don’t be afraid to approach a table and ask
questions. The recruiters are eager to talk to you if you might be
interested in their company.
Go to the career fair as early as possible:
Most employers leave early- usually by 1:30 p.m. so be sure to talk
to the ones that most interest you first and try to get to the career fair
as early as possible.
Another reason to get at the career fair early- it may be less
crowded and recruiters will be mentally sharper than at the end of the
How to handle career fair lines:
Prioritize- make a list of the top employers you most want to meet at
Career Day and speak to them early in the morning or as soon as you
arrive at the fair. Be sure to get a map of the Career Day layout so that
you will know where these employers’ booths are located. (Maps will
be available at the student registration table on Career Day.)
If there is a large line waiting to speak to a particular recruiter, wrap
things up quickly and maybe try back later if you want to speak with
that individual further.
Spend your time talking to employers most likely to be looking for
your major. If you have limited time, don’t waste it standing in a long
line for a company that doesn’t hire your major or isn’t looking for your
major. (Check out the list of UTC Career Day employer participants
and the majors they are seeking under Calendar of
Recruitment/Career Days/Events at
When an employer doesn’t take resumes or give out business
You may find that some recruiters no longer take resumes at career fairs but
instead give you information about how to send your e-mail to them
electronically through their company web site or how to apply through your
university’s career services offices. Be sure to follow all of their directions so
that you can be considered for one of their job openings. Also, these
employers may still want to look at your resume so be sure to have one for
them to look at in case they ask. However, don’t be offended if they give it
back to you or if they offer you some suggestions for improving it.
Remember that if a recruiter doesn’t take resumes at a career fair, it doesn’t
mean that his/her company is not hiring. Also, giving your resume to a
recruiter doesn’t necessarily mean that you have applied or will be considered
for a job. If the employer instructs you to apply online or through one of your
university’s career services offices, you probably won’t be considered for jobs
until you have followed these steps.
Don’t worry if an employer doesn’t offer you a personal business card. Some
companies want to avoid the expense of handing out a large number of
business cards so their recruiters won’t have them available for any career
For students who are not U.S. citizens:
The U.S. government places hiring limitations on companies and as a result
some career fair recruiters can only consider U.S. citizens for their
internships, co-op jobs, and/or permanent positions. If in doubt, ask the
For UTC alumni:
UTC alumni are welcome at UTC’s Career Day. Be aggressive and take
advantage of this opportunity. You may want to highlight your resume with
accomplishments since graduation. Even if recruiters are hiring for entry-level
jobs, they can still probably give you feedback about job openings and the
hiring process for more experienced employees.
After the career fair:
Immediately jot down notes about whom you talked to, what you
discussed, and what stood out to you. If recruiters gave you their
cards, send them an e-mail and thank them for their time. If you can,
mention something interesting that you learned when you talked to
Follow all instructions. If a recruiter gave you specific instructions
about how to apply for a job, follow them as quickly as possible. (E.g.
You may have been told to go to the company web site and upload a
Be patient. If career fair employers are interested in you, they may
not contact you immediately. In some cases, employers have held on
to resumes and then contacted people months later to interview and
It isn’t necessary for you to send a thank you letter or e-mail to a
career fair employer. In fact, some would rather not get them. If you
would like to contact a recruiter after the career fair, ask them if it
would be okay for you to follow-up with them about a job opportunity.
If they give you a business card or their e-mail address, they are giving
you permission to contact them.
In some cases, follow your gut instinct about following up with an
employer. Though it contradicts the point above, other recruiters don’t
mind unsolicited follow-up calls, letters, or e-mails and may actually
reward you with an interview. Some view the gesture as a sign of your
ambition. Because recruiters have different feelings about this issue,
you will need to try to use your knowledge of the company, the
recruiter, and the industry to make your decision. For example,
recruiters wanting to fill sales positions may be impressed with follow-
up contact because they know that more confident and aggressive
people tend to be better salespersons. In addition, some recruiters are
traditionalists and say that they would appreciate a handwritten note
more than an e-mailed one.
Be prepared for a company representative to contact you.
Remember that if you gave out your resume, put your name and phone
number on the company’s sign-in sheet, or registered at the company
web site, you could get a phone call about a job. Make sure that you
have a professional voicemail message on any cell phone or home
phone number that you gave to the companies. If an employer calls
you, call them back AS SOON AS POSSIBLE or you might miss out on
a job opportunity.
Some career fair employers return to campus to interview
students. Check with the UTC Placement and Student Employment
and the UTC Office of Cooperative Education for more information.
Visit the career-related offices at your university to find out more
about their services. Find out how these services can not only help
you decide on a major or career field but also assist you in developing
a resume, preparing for a job interview, researching a company, and
planning and carrying out a job search. In addition, they can provide
information about internships and co-op jobs to give you work
experience while you are in school as well as listings of permanent
positions available upon your graduation. These UTC offices are:
o UTC’s Office of Counseling and Career Planning (University
Center 338, 425-4438)
o UTC’s Office of Cooperative Education (University Center
o UTC’s Office of Placement and Student Employment
(University Center 315, 425-4184)
Know who you are and what you want.
Career fair success is all about practice and preparation.
No matter what company they represent, recruiters tend to give the
same general advice to job seekers and career fair attendees. Follow
these rules and you will increase your chances of making a good first
impression and finding a great job.