Mastering job fairs: Your ultimate guide to professional networking

Mastering job fairs: Your ultimate guide to professional networking

No matter what school or job fair you attend, preparation is key to getting the most out of these unique networking opportunities. Antonia Vollet, Employer Relations Director for Swiss Education Group shares tips to help students prepare for the International Recruitment Forum, applicable for any professional networking opportunity. 


By Swiss Education Group

5 minutes
Student networking at a job fair


No matter where you are in your studies or career, attending job fairs and industry forums is a great way to network and connect with companies and industries that interest you. 

Swiss Education Group (SEG) is preparing for its biannual International Recruitment Forum (IRF), one of Europe's largest hospitality job fairs. Antonia Vollet, Employer Relations Director, spearheads this large-scale event with over 150 company representatives in attendance regularly. It is an event that students of all four SEG schools attend twice a year to find internships during their studies, jobs after graduation as well as management training programs.

It can be an intimidating environment for students new to the professional world, and Ms. Vollet, and our dedicated Career and Internship coaches on each campus, often offers coaching and tips to help students prepare for this networking event. 

Below, we have expanded on the three golden rules she always shares with students to help them prepare for the IRF or any job fair, industry forum, or symposium.


1. Update and Triple check your C.V. or Resumé 

Ensure that your C.V. is updated with all relevant experience, especially if you have recently returned from an internship. Add your job responsibilities and even classes you might be currently taking. Sometimes, experience may seem outside the target industry. Still, when starting your career, any experience that shows different transferable skills and soft skills like reliability, perseverance, responsibility, teamwork, or leadership are relevant. 

After updating your C.V., you must double check– triple check–for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Have other people review it if possible. Particularly if you are not a native speaker of the language it is written in.

Here is a checklist of what to look for in updating your C.V.:

  • Contact Information: Ensure your contact information is current and professional. Use a sensible email address, ideally one that incorporates your name.
  • Objective or Summary: If you choose to include an objective or summary, make sure it is clear, concise, and tailored to the roles you seek.
  • Education: Update your education section to reflect your most recent academic achievements. Include your expected graduation date, relevant coursework, honors, or extracurricular activities pertinent to your career goals.
  • Experience: Add any new work experiences, internships, volunteer work, or projects. Focus on responsibilities and achievements relevant to the roles you're applying for, using action verbs to describe your contributions.
  • Skills: Update your skills section to include any new abilities or software proficiencies you've acquired. Make sure these are relevant to the jobs you are interested in.
  • Certifications and Awards: Include any new certifications, workshops, or awards relevant to your career.
  • Grammar and Spelling: Use a grammar checker and read your resume multiple times to catch any spelling or grammatical errors. Avoid relying solely on spellcheck.
  • Consistency: Check for consistency in formatting, including font size, bullet points, punctuation, and date formats. Ensure that alignment and spacing are uniform throughout the document.


2. Research the companies that will be present. 

Do your homework and research any companies you are especially interested in. Recruiters are impressed when you come to them with a certain level of company information and knowledge and ask intelligent questions.

Here are a few examples of thoughtful questions that job seekers can ask according to their own interests and values:

  • Company Strategy and Performance: "Your company has recently [specific action or achievement]. Can you tell me more about how this fits your long-term strategic goals?"
  • Recent News and Developments: "Your company just launched [a new product/service/initiative]. How will this impact your market position in the coming years?"
  • Company Culture and Values: "I was impressed to learn about your company's commitment to [specific value or initiative, such as sustainability or diversity]. Could you share some examples of how these values are embodied within the company?"
  • Industry Trends and Challenges: "Considering the recent trends in [industry], how is your company adapting to stay ahead or innovate within this context?"
  • Career Growth and Development: "I understand that your company strongly emphasizes professional development. Can you provide examples of career progression paths within your organization?"
  • Specific Projects or Clients: "I read about your company's involvement with [specific project or client]. Can you discuss the impact of this work and how it aligns with your overall business objectives?"
  • Leadership and Vision: "I am inspired by your CEO's vision for [specific aspect related to the company or industry]. How does this vision trickle down to day-to-day operations and employee objectives?"
  • Future Plans and Initiatives: "What are some key initiatives or objectives your company aims to achieve in the next year, and how do these align with the overall industry trends?"
  • Feedback and Improvement Processes: "How does your company gather and implement employee feedback to foster a continuous improvement environment?"
  • Community and Social Responsibility: "I admire your company's efforts in [specific social responsibility initiative]. How do employees get involved, and what impact have these initiatives had internally and externally?"

Asking such questions shows that you have done your homework and genuinely consider how you might fit in and contribute to the company's culture, goals, and future success.


3. Prepare a simple elevator pitch. 

The primary objective of an elevator pitch is to create interest and engagement from the listener. It should make them want to ask follow-up questions or learn more about you. It's not about closing a deal or getting a job offer on the spot but rather opening the door to further communication. It is a great way to introduce yourself professionally. Be sure to include a detail about yourself that makes you stand out. What is memorable and unique about you? 

Below are some tips on crafting an elevator pitch. 

  • Introduction: Begin with a greeting and introduce yourself. Quickly establish who you are and what you do.
  • Objective or Goal: Clearly state your purpose or what you're seeking. For job seekers, this could be to land a specific type of role or to work in a particular industry.
  • Background and Skills: Highlight your relevant experience, skills, and accomplishments. Focus on what makes you unique and how your background can add value to the listener's organization or context.
  • Aspiration: Briefly touch on your career aspirations or what you hope to achieve next. This shows direction and ambition.
  • Call to Action: End with a specific request or an open invitation to continue the conversation. This could be asking for a business card, a meeting, or a referral.

When crafting and delivering your elevator pitch, aim for the 4-C's: 

  • Concise: Keep your pitch short, ideally between 30 seconds to a minute. You need to grab attention quickly and respect the listener's time.
  • Clear: Avoid jargon or overly complex language. Your pitch should be understandable to someone outside of your field or industry.
  • Compelling: Share what's unique about you. Why should someone remember you, among many others? Incorporate a hook or a memorable detail that makes your pitch stand out.
  • Confident: Deliver your pitch with confidence and enthusiasm. Your tone and body language can significantly impact how your message is received. Practice will make this come naturally. Rehearse your pitch until it feels natural.


After the IRF

After the IRF or job fair, send personalized thank you emails or LinkedIn messages to the representatives you spoke with. Express your appreciation for their time and reiterate your interest in their company. This can keep you top of mind and potentially lead to further discussions or interviews. 

Use social media platforms like LinkedIn to follow companies and stay current on potential opportunities. Make sure your profiles are up-to-date and reflect your personal professional brand. 

By following these tips, you can navigate a job fair more effectively, making valuable connections and leaving a strong impression on potential employers.

This is your time to shine, so don't miss this opportunity to present yourself in the best possible way.


This article was originally published on Swiss Education Group

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By Swiss Education Group