The Introvert’s Guide to Career Fairs

So we had our semi-annual career fair recently at GWSB. It’s the convergence of dozens of employers with  hundreds of students. A good opportunity for students to learn about these organizations and have face-to-face interaction with recruiters, but at the same time it makes for a somewhat chaotic atmosphere and a challenging environment for introverts to navigate. In some ways, career fairs are just like networking events in that it’s often a lot of people in a confined space, many background voices to compete with, and one conversation after another.

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One of our favorite recruiters speaking with an attendee about job opportunities at his company!

These types of settings, like we see at networking events and career fairs, can present a big challenge for introverts especially. So here are 3 tips that introverts (and extroverts) would be smart to consider:

Prepare: Before the day of the fair, do some research on the employers with whom you want to visit. (Side note: be open to employers not on your list)! The better prepared you are ahead of time, the better the chance you’ll feel confident and comfortable during the event.  Also, the research you do may produce some questions you can ask the recruiters and thereby divert some of the focus off of you.

Pace Yourself: A lot comes down to pacing yourself to avoid burnout and sensory overload. A good strategy might be to talk with say, 3 employers, then take a short break away from the action, then dive back in. This way, you can be more effective at conserving your energy for a longer period of time. The first step though will be to determine how much total time you have to spend there and then plan accordingly. For example, if you have 1 hour total, with the goal of visiting 7 employers, that leaves you a nice cushion of time even with breaks built in.

Follow-Up: Finally, be sure to send a brief email to those employers that you’re genuinely interested in, ideally within 24-48 hours. This is where we introverts can shine since writing tends to be a natural strength of ours. Thank them for their time, restate your interest in their organization, and refer to something you talked about during the fair. If you had especially good rapport, you may want to send a LinkedIn connection request.

So there it is: preparation, pacing, and follow-up. 3 ways to help put introverts on a level playing field with our extroverted friends during career fairs and other networking activities.

– JR

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