Career Fair Guidebook

A How-To Guide for All Things Career Fair




Big Ideas Behind a Career Fair


Basic Requirements

  • Yourself

    • You need to bring the uniqueness of yourself to the table, you need to bring your specific interests within engineering. A company rep wants to hear why you specifically want to work for them specifically.

  • Resume

    • A one page summary of what you’ve accomplished. Don’t over-complicate it, more information to resumes will be discussed below. A resume takes some time to create, so if you’re in the early stages of your preparation, you should start this step.

  • Dress

    • Career fairs are business professional events. As some clothes from home can take a while to get to school, professional clothing is a necessity. The CCO office has alternatives if you do not currently own any professional clothes.

Purdue’s CCO

Purdue’s Center for Career Opportunities is filled with fantastic information for career fair prep.



Before the Fair

Preparing for a Successful Day


Before The Fair

There are many steps one can take before they enter the doors of a career fair. In-fact, most success brought upon career fairs are due to actions taken by candidates before they arrive to talk to recruiters. Researching companies, finding the open positions or possible existing connections give certain students an edge into the opportunity of a lifetime as soon as they meet a recruiter. By finding yourself on this web page, you’re already several steps ahead of many students attending career fairs.


  • Templates

    • To start constructing your own resume, the best place to begin is by modeling yours off a successful existing resume. Many examples can be found online of relevant resumes that suit your needs.

  • Revise, Simplify, Power Verbs

    • Have friends, professors, parents, or people at Purdue’s CCO sit down and review your resume. You already understand yourself better than your resume will display, they might not be convinced and need clarification, they might see more attributes than you think you can display. Their insight will help you write a more convincing summary.

  • The GPA Question

  • Per the Purdue CCO, only include your GPA on your resume if it is above a 3.0. If it is not, highlight other relevant characteristics on your resume, but don’t include your GPA.

Company Selection

Know what projects or products they have created and which ones interested you in applying for a company. If you ever hear of a cool or interesting product/service made by an engineering company, write down their name and make sure you apply. You could be working there for the rest of your career, you should make sure you’ve got enough interest in the company to last that long. While the recruiters will be happy to answer questions during the career fair about their company, you should come prepared knowing the preliminary research topics about the company.

Company Research

Company research can be the absolutely foundational things relating to a company. What do they do? How do they do it? Who are their biggest clients? What other companies do they work most often with and why? What does the program or department that you're applying for do? How many locations do they have? Do they have any outlined company values? Remember to ask for clarification about anything unclear/ambiguous regarding what the company does, or what the position you're interviewing for does when it comes time for it. Not only will it give you a better idea of what you're getting into, but it shows you're interested in the position.

Cover Letters

Cover letters are a great way to stand out among other applicants. They are a personal letter detailing your specific interest in a company, separate from your resume. Successful cover letters should be specific to each company they are sent to. The cover letter should describe where and how you think you would be a successful fit for a company.

Purdue’s CCO has a great guide to the process involved with writing a successful cover letter.


Career fairs are business professional events. As some clothes from home can take a while to get to school, professional clothing is a necessity. The CCO office has alternatives if you do not currently own any professional clothes. You need to display that this career fair is the most important event of your day, the recruiters want to know you are invested.

Resume Templates and Guides

The Purdue CCO’s comprehensive Career Planning Handbook is a fantastic resource for cover letters, interview tips, resumes, CV’s and more!

Guide to Writing Cover Letters

Dustin McKissen breaks down the steps involved with writing a successful cover letter into short, simple steps. Simplifying a daunting process.

How to Build A Good Engineering CV

A good overview video of how to critque and create a resume. Video created by

Purdue’s CCO Career Closet

Located in Young 132 Monday-Friday 10AM-4PM. Only takes 20 minutes to find the right professional attire!



Day of Fair

Get the Most Out of Your Experience


The Day of the Fair

You need to make an agenda of who you are going to talk to and when you will visit them. Often a short list of even 5 companies is a good place to start. You might want to throw in a smaller company with a shorter recruiting line to cast your opportunity net wider while warming up. Check out what companies are hiring your year/major (available on the Career Fair Plus app) and make it a point to talk to them!

Planning an Agenda

Know the times you have a chance to visit the career fair, know how many companies you can talk to within that time. Planning to attend the fair earlier is always better, as recruiters haven’t been hearing similar credentials and filling their interview times. Plan a set of companies you are going to talk to and stick to your list.

The Career Fair Plus app has a great feature allowing you to favorite certain companies and keep them separate from the large listings, it will also show you company locations at the fair and let you plan a walking route between each company. Also features a Skip-the-Line function for select companies! Let’s you schedule your meeting with the employer instead of waiting in long lines.

Get There Early

The recruiters can only interview so many people in a day, so it is smart to be there when the doors open. They’ll talk to several hundred students so you see the odds. You're much more likely to get an interview at 9:00 am versus 4:00 pm. as the day gets later, as interview schedules start to fill up throughout the day.

Get Contact Information

Keeping contact with somebody at your desired company is a gateway into learning more about a company. When you talk to any recruiter, try to get their business card and remember a few key facts about them. Ask them relevant questions and get to learn why they chose to recruit and work for their company. If they aren’t in an HR role and would likely be your supervisor, get to know the nature of the company and the nature of their work. Use this information to relate to the recruiter and to stand out above other applicants.

Apply Beforehand

Unfortunately, for some companies it is not sensible to assess every candidate in person. They need to filter and scan applicants fast and in high quantities. This is where the importance of a good resume and good research takes place beforehand. The resume will hopefully assist you in getting past the first phase of your application. The research will let you know if you meet the basic qualifications of the job.

You are just as likely to get a position meeting 50% of the requirements as meeting 90% of them.” Remember: Certain industries especially related to military, citizenship and other requirements are a must. However you might not be the ideal candidate but you will still have a chance.

“But Why Do They Always Tell Me to Apply Online?”

It's a legal requirement for large companies. They would have standout candidates that were slotted for interviews but never did the online portion and therefore weren't interviewed. It's a rule specifically designed to get around the "Hey my nephew is an awesome hire, I'll just hire him".

Elevator Pitch

You have a short window to pique the recruiter’s interests and display your interests and capabilities. Make your interests direct and relate precisely to the company you’re talking to. Mention your graduation date and major. You might want to make one lead into questions about the specific company you’re talking to. Elevator pitches are short and easier to perfect than you might think. An elevator pitch should be able to made within minutes and there are tons of resources online to help you create yours. A good elevator pitch should be 60 seconds or less in length, giving a brief overview of yourself and your goals, and what you can bring to the company!

Being Yourself

Employers and recruiters often look for candidates they feel are comfortable to be around, and that they can personally get along with. The more natural a candidate is, the more memorable they are to the recruiter. Make sure to differentiate yourself by stating all unique things related to yourself. Your hobbies, your place where you grew up, engineering projects you might have read way too much into how they worked. Just let your passion shine through and try not to worry about presenting yourself in any fabricated manner.

Be Yourself

In the end, be yourself, be confident in your abilities, and show the recruiter that you will be a dedicated member of their company. Be comfortable showing that you are passionate about what the company does, during the conversation share any experiences that you’ve had that are related to the job you want to do at the company, and you’ll be a stronger candidate. Best of luck at the fair!


Career Fair Plus App

Elevator Pitches

UC Davis’s guide to perfecting your elevator pitch.



After the Fair

How to Follow Up


Fair Follow Up

Recruiters coming to career fairs get a blur of students attending rapidly for a whole day. When talking to recruiters, get their name and contact information so you can follow up and stay connected. Networking can be as simple as checking in and learning updates to somebody in charge of filling positions. The more likely candidates to get hired follow up all of their fair interactions within 24 hours of the fair. Make sure the following day you take time out of your day, and let the recruiter know how appreciative you were to have the time to meet with them. If you are selected for an interview, be ready to research even more in depth with the company and take time to revisit them on multiple topics.

Demonstrate that you are still enthusiastic about the role and appreciated learning something about the company/team/role. Involve a discussion of your skills, and a discussion of the projects we're working on. Put in their mind that those two discussions are definitely related, and remind them that your skills could obviously be applied to their projects. Keep it simple.

Staying in Touch

Relationships are determined by courtesy and consistency. If a recruiter has noticed that over the course of many months your interest in their company hasn’t waned a bit, either through constant interest at career fairs, multiple position applications, or participation in their interest days, they will start to consider you above other candidates. Communication is a two way street, ask questions about them, people are much more likely to hire people they know or are comfortable with, get to knowing your connections.


Ask questions to keep your interviewer on their feet and engaged, people love talking about themselves and knowing that people are interested in them. Do more research about the company. Show that you're intrigued by what you'll be doing and who you'll be working with (potentially) rather than just looking for another job or professional experience.

"Could you walk me through a typical day at work in this position?" is a very powerful question to ask them, it gives extended knowledge of what the position will be like, lets them imagine you in that position. They will do anything we can to let you know exactly what kind of job you're applying for if you just ask the right questions.

STAR Method

The situation, task, action, result format is a technique used by interviewers to gather all the relevant information about a specific capability that the job requires. Often, you need to describe a scenario that addresses certain aspects of your problem solving capabilities. You should have some brief mental notes of 3-4 relevant situations to give to interviewers, and adapt when necessary.

  1. Situation: Open with a brief description of the Situation and context of the story (who, what, where, when, how).

  2. Task: Explain the Task you had to complete highlighting any specific challenges or constraint (eg deadlines, costs, other issues).

  3. Action: Describe the specific Actions that you took to complete the task.

  4. Result: Close with the result of your efforts. Include figures to quantify the result if possible.

How to Prepare for Interviews

Kansas University’s guide to preparing for any interview. Very informative and thorough.

The STAR Method

The STAR method is a structured manner of responding to a behavioral-based interview question by discussing the specific situation, task, action, and result of the situation you are describing.

Writing a Follow Up Email

Indeed’s guide and templates to writing a successful follow up email.




More Helpful Sites to Further Prepare

Use the following links to fine tune each aspect of your career fair approach!

Crafting Perfect Resumes: Click Here! and Click Here!

Making an Elevator Pitch: Click Here!

Finding an Outfit: Click Here!

Acing Interviews: Click Here!

Networking Like a Pro: Click Here!