Advice from Recruiters: Making the Most of the Career Fair

A student talks to a recruiter from Chick-fil-a during the Fall Career Fair.

Over 100 employers will visit campus to recruit students from every major at the Winter Career Fair on January 30, 2019.  To help you get ready, recruiters who will be on campus to meet you have offered up some advice on how to have a successful career fair experience.  


Do your homework. Familiarize yourself with the list of employers coming and what they will be recruiting for. Don’t overlook Career Fair basics such as having a well-organized resume, a good handshake, and preparing your brief introduction.

  • “Make sure to do your research prior to the career fair. Know which companies will be there, who you’d like to connect with, what positions they have available and why you are interested.” - Joelle Rosen, Campus Recruiting Manager, BDO USA LLP
  • “To stand out to employers it’s important that students prepare for the career fair event.  Take a look at the companies that will be there and their open positions on Go Irish. Look at the company’s website and current office locations and projects.  Visit companies in person that you have sincere interest in working for and come to the booth prepared to discuss something that you find interesting about the company from your research.” - Gavin Chafin, Director, Talent Acquisition, SALAS O’BRIEN
  • “A career fair isn’t the place where a structured interview takes place—for us, we want to have a conversation with you where we both learn a little bit about each other. You will stand out much better if you can keep the conversation flowing naturally while showing a genuine interest and willingness to learn more about our company, what we do, and how you and your skill set would fit in with our culture.” - Marcus Bland ‘13, Manager, Premier International
  • “Underclassmen can really stand out by talking to companies early, so don’t be intimidated if you aren’t eligible for posted opportunities yet. Recruiters want to build networks just like you do, so it is definitely worth your time to visit companies even if you aren’t actively applying to positions there yet.” - Marlena Taynor, University Relations, McDonald’s Corporation


Keep an open-mind - don’t just glance at an employer’s name and make an assumption about the type of student they are seeking.  Not everything will be obvious from appearances and websites. You’ll need to ask meaningful questions to reveal details about the company, the positions they are hiring for currently and in the future, and what it’s like to work there.  

With an event of this size, it’s also important to have a game plan to prioritize who you want to visit.  That being said, it’s okay to follow a conversation down an unexpected path or to explore a company you hadn’t considered before.

  • “One of the keys to a successful career fair experience is preparing an open mind. Students can (and should!) research the companies they think they’re interested in but also shouldn’t be afraid to approach other companies that look interesting in the moment.” - Marlena Taynor, University Relations, McDonald’s Corporation
  • “Ask the questions and find the company/firm that you feel fits you best.  Culture is absolutely something I would encourage you to look into and ask questions around.  You will be working with these people and being part of the culture. Make sure it is a match and something you are excited about.” - Joelle Rosen, Campus Recruiting Manager, BDO USA LLP
  • “Our company was founded on a Code of Ethics, and over the past +30 years, it has been the driving principle in everything we do. Notre Dame students have strong moral compasses that lead them to be valued as trustworthy and dedicated consultants always striving to produce quality results.” - Marcus Bland ‘13, Manager, Premier International

Don’t Panic

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself for this one event. Remember - recruiters are there because they want to meet with Notre Dame students.  Every single person has their own unique blend of skills and talents and each employer will be looking for something different.  You got this!

  • “When addressing the representatives at the booth, look them in the eye, give them a handshake, and ask thoughtful questions.  Remember to relax and be yourself, you are just having a discussion with someone who can answer your questions about their company and they are likely just as (if not more) interested in talking to you as you are to them.” Gavin Chafin, Director, Talent Acquisition, SALAS O’BRIEN
  • “The career fair process is a two-way street. While recruiters are trying to figure out if you’re a good match for the company, you owe it to yourself to make sure the company is a good match for you! Think about what matters most to you (Growth opportunities? Structure provided? Location?) and ask questions that will help you decide if you see potential there.” Marlena Taynor, University Relations, McDonald’s Corporation
  • “ yourself, relax and breathe…no need to be nervous.  We all have been in your shoes at some point.” - Joelle Rosen, Campus Recruiting Manager, BDO USA LLP

There are several preparation opportunities leading up to the Winter Career Fair. Coming to a Career Fair Prep Learning Lab is a perfect opportunity to learn Career Fair 101, what to expect, what to bring, how to prepare, and more! Don’t have a resume just yet - there’s a Learning Lab for that. Attend the Writing Your First Resume Learning Lab and leave with a well thought out and ready to go resume. Check out our events page for events, dates and times of these opportunities.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Holly Decker is an Engagement Manager at the Center for Career Development. As a member of the Employer Engagement Team, Holly works with employers and companies that are interested in recruiting Notre Dame students. A '09 Notre Dame grad, Holly has worked for Career Services for nine years.