What to Expect?

The purpose of a career fair is to learn about jobs and internships available, talk with employers representing different organizations, and network. Here are some things to expect:

  • When you check in at the fair, you will receive a paper copy of the floor map, showing how organizations are arranged. Before beginning, decide which organizations you want to meet with, and make a plan of action.
  • Some organizations bring several recruiters. Focus on one recruiter and be sensitive of their time, if it seems like they are wrapping up the conversation.

Possible interviews:

Some employers leave early:

  • Depending on an employer’s distance to travel home, they may leave a little earlier than the official end of the Fair.  
  • With that in mind, arrive at the fair as soon as you can.

Check out the UCC's Career Fair Checklist (PDF) for ways to prepare for the fair.


  • Recruiters will see a lot of students, and your resume is a representation of you and your experiences that recruiters will review at the end of the day to determine who to follow up with.
  • Upload your resume to Handshake: Some employers may prefer a digital copy of your resume. Employers will be able to access resumes via Handshake for students who register for the fair. 
  • Bring at least 10-20 copies of your resume to the Fair, in addition to uploading your resume to Handshake.
  • Learn more about the basics of resume writing and ways to have your resume reviewed in the resume section of our website.

Identify Organizations that Interest You:

  • Before the career fair, it’s important to look up who’s attending and plan out who you’d like to speak with first.
  • Make a list of the organizations you would like to connect with at the fair. When you arrive at the Fair, start with the organizations you’re already interested in, so that you don't run out of time.
  • Take time to visit with organizations you haven’t considered yet. Employers are recruiting students who have the skills and personality that are a good fit for their organization. The reality is, though they may not have included your major or educational licensure area in their listing, they may be interested in what you could bring to the position. In fact, 50% of employers who attend the Fall and Spring career fairs recruit ALL majors. So, don’t eliminate organizations because they haven’t specifically listed that they’re recruiting your major. The organization may have more opportunities available than they’ve included in the Career Fair listing. So take the time to network with different organizations and get the name of the hiring manager for jobs you’re interested in obtaining.

Your Introduction:

  • You will only have a few minutes with a recruiter, so you want to prepare a succinct statement to introduce and sell your professional self.
  • Include where you are now (your name, your academic programs, your year), where you have been (prior experiences that qualify you), and where you are going (the type of experience/position you are looking for).  
  • As the conversation with the employer progresses, you can also mention what excites you about working in this field or position, how your interests and skills align with what they might be seeking, or what you’re passionate about. Think about what might set you apart.

Prepare Questions to Ask:

  • There’s nothing that makes you look less interested in an organization than not having any questions for them, so do your homework!
  • Bear in mind that your questions should not make the employer feel "put on the spot". You are demonstrating your interest in the organization.
  • This is not an appropriate time to ask questions about salary, but it’s a great time to ask questions about organization culture, training, and the selection process and timeline.
  • Create your own questions, but here are some examples:
    • What kinds of skills and experience do you look for in the employees you hire?
    • Are graduate degrees important to advance within your organization?
    • Does your organization hire on a continual basis or during specific times of the year?
    • How many years does a typical entry-level employee stay with your organization?
    • Are there opportunities for ongoing training and professional development?
    • What made you choose to work for this organization?
  • If you bring a written list of questions to the fair, make sure to decide what you want to ask before you arrive at the employer’s booth, so that you can maintain eye contact throughout your conversation.

Dress Professionally:

  • Wear a suit if you have one, but if not don’t let that keep you from attending the career fair.
  • If you are looking for affordable/free professional attire, check out UCC’s JCPenney Suit Up Event and the JMU Career Clothes Closet.
  • You want to dress professionally and respectfully, which includes ironing your clothes.
  • It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.
  • If you have sweaty palms, bring a tissue to help keep your hands dry between handshakes.
  • We provide space to drop off your coat, backpacks, or other items you don’t want to carry around. Look for signs for the coat check room in the Festival Center.
  • Wear comfortable dress shoes, because you’ll be standing a while.
  • Read more professional attire tips.

What to Bring:

  • You’ll want to have a padfolio, binder, or folder to keep your resume and prepared list of questions organized. You can also store materials you receive from employers here.
  • Resumes (10-20 at least)
  • List of organizations, notes, and questions
  • Pen
  • Tissues
  • Breath mints; not gum
Talking with Employers

Employers send recruiters to the Career Fair who can speak to students about the organization and available positions. A recruiter’s job is to meet, recruit, and screen potential applicants, so don’t be intimidated. They want to talk with you. Many recruiters are also JMU alumni, which can be a point of connection. Here are some pointers for your conversations with recruiters.

Introduce Yourself:

  • Offer a handshake, and maintain eye contact as you provide your introduction (as described above).

Listen to the Recruiter about organization and opportunities:

  • After you introduce yourself, the recruiter will describe and provide literature about their organization and opportunities.


  • The employer will expect that you ask questions, and they will ask you questions.
  • You want to demonstrate confidence, enthusiasm, and interest for the organization. Don’t say anything negative about previous employers or experiences in college.

Offer Resume:

  • Always introduce yourself before offering your resume.
  • An employer who attended one of our Fairs commented, “Students were walking around sticking out their resumes.” This shouldn't be the first thing you do, and should at earliest come after you’ve introduced yourself and listened to the recruiter about their organization and opportunities.  
  • Often an employer will ask you for your resume, but if not, you may still offer it after making a connection with the employer.

Before Leaving, Ask Employer:

  • For a business card or contact information.
  • The best way to follow up with them.
  • A time frame for their hiring process.

After the Fair:

  • Send thank you emails to recruiters that you spoke with if you are still interested in their opportunities. This can easily set you apart from other candidates!
  • Develop an organizational system to track all of the recruiters and potential job leads you find at the Career & Internship Fair and in your job search in general.

If the university is closed or the opening of the university is delayed until 11am or later, the Fair will be rescheduled. If the university opens by 10am, the Fair will run as scheduled. In the event that the university closes during the day the event will be immediately canceled. For JMU cancellation information go to https://www.jmu.edu or call 540-433-5300.

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