Career Fair 101: Your guide to preparing for career fairs


Photo courtesy of Oakland University

Career Services offers a variety of workshops and Prep Chats to help students prepare for career fairs. Students can visit the office at 154 North Foundation Hall or schedule appointments via Handshake.

Maybe you’ve been to an Oakland University career fair, or maybe you’ve been too nervous to go because you just don’t know where to start. How do I sign up? What do I bring? What am I supposed to wear? Fear not, Career Fair 101’s got you covered. Career Services’ very own Career Ambassador Program Coordinator Colleen Williams tunes in with some helpful tips and tricks. 

Getting Started: Finding a Fair

First thing’s first, you need to pick an event. The easiest way to find out what’s happening is to check Handshake. If you haven’t already, create an account. Once you sign in click “Career Center” in the top right corner to find upcoming career fairs, or click “Events” and search for career fairs. 

OU has two virtual upcoming career fairs. The Virtual Fall Career Fair 2021, which is open to all majors, is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 28 from 3 to 6 p.m. Find employers in fields such as business, liberal arts, human resources, health sciences, natural sciences and nursing. 

The Virtual Engineering and IT Career Fair 2021 will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 29 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. This fair is for students from the School of Engineering and Computer Science only. 

Once you find the fair that works for you, you can register for it right on Handshake with the click of one button. 

Williams’ Pro-Tip: Keep an eye open for employer meet and greet visits, and other smaller scale employer events that will take place in person. 

How to prepare 

Have your resume ready! Schedule an appointment on Handshake with a Career Ambassador or swing by the office at 154 North Foundation Hall to have your resume reviewed.

Williams’ Pro Tip: The Career Studio also offers a variety of Career Fair Prep Chats with topics ranging from resume tips to completing your Handshake profile to practicing your elevator pitch. Check them out on Campus Labs or go to the “Events” tab on Handshake. 

What to wear

You may not be in-person for upcoming career fairs, but you do want to dress at least your top half professionally over Zoom! Opt for clean, pressed business attire such as suits, slacks, blouses, button-ups and dresses. Check out page seven of Career Services’ Interviewing Guide for more detailed advice. 

Williams’ Pro Tip: Stay tuned for OU’s Suit Up with JCPenney Events for 60% off select career dress apparel, shoes and accessories.  

What to bring

In the case that a fair is in-person, you should bring multiple copies of your resume to hand to employers. If you’re attending an online fair, you can upload your resume to your Handshake profile and make sure to check off “visible” so that prospective employers can see it. 

Williams’ Pro Tip: Set your privacy settings on Handshake to “Community” to attend group sessions. Then, your profile will be visible to employers, students and alumni from a variety of colleges and universities. 

If you’re feeling nervous about signing up, you’re not alone! Talk to other students who have been to fairs, check out Career Services’ Resource Library and above all, be confident in your abilities and what you have to offer. Happy networking!