Career Fair Tips to Help You Succeed

Career Fair CandidatesIt’s that time of year again and class is back in session! Veterinary students have headed back to school where they’re likely to attend a career fair or two. These fairs serve as one-stop shops for them to hand out their resumes, network with experienced professionals, and, with any luck, land a job or externship.

If you’re a veterinary student looking for a job in your field, follow these helpful tips to allow yourself to stand out at the next career fair you attend:

1. Bring copies of your resume
Recruiters at career fairs meet a lot of people over the course of the day and it’s unlikely that they’ll remember you based on your face and name alone. That’s why it’s important to bring 10 – 20 copies of your resume (as well as business cards, if you have them) with you when you go.

Just remember to proofread your resume before printing it off. If necessary, have a friend or family member act as a second pair of eyes to check for any spelling errors or consistency issues.

2. Make a positive first impression
Dressing appropriately is vital to ensuring you make a good first impression to any career fair recruiters. Though appearance doesn’t actually have anything to do with your abilities or skills, we’ve been conditioned to make quick judgments about others based on superficial traits, such as wardrobe or how a person carries themselves.

If you’re unsure about what to wear, opt for comfortable business casual attire. Looking neat and credible will draw positive attention from recruiters and it can also boost your self-confidence.

3. Prepare an elevator pitch
An elevator pitch is a short but interesting speech about who you are, what you can do, and what you want to do. For veterinary students, this means discussing what type of practice you’re looking for in terms of geography, size, patient base, and caseload. Elevator pitches typically take less than a minute and usually wrap up within the 20 – 30 second range, so you need to know what you’d like to say.

When creating an elevator pitch, you should first identify your goals and what you want others to take away from your pitch. With any luck, your pitch will pique your recipient’s interest and lead to a longer conversation which will allow you to go more in-depth and ask questions. To learn how to craft a successful elevator pitch, take a look at Carnegie Mellon University’s elevator pitch tip sheet.

4. Be ready to ask questions
Asking questions shows you’re actually interested in the organization and/or job you’re hearing about. Although you’ll likely come up with questions as the conversation progresses naturally, it certainly doesn’t hurt to prepare some beforehand. Don’t be afraid to ask questions regarding caseload, mentorship, orientation, staff to vet ratios, community outreach, scheduling, and overall practice wellbeing.

If you’re able to find out which organizations will be attending the career fair prior to showing up, you should do some light research on them and craft your questions accordingly.

If you follow these tips, you’re sure to make a great first impression at any career fair you attend. Good luck!