Three Ways to Take the Headache Out of Creating Your Fair Floor Plan

David Nicol, Co-Founder, Career Fair Plus

Do you dread assigning your employers a table at your Career Fair? Do you worry about career-expo-attendee-mapleaving someone out or not putting them in the right place? What about making changes at the last minute? And after all that… will your attendees know how to use it?

We see several hundred floor plans and table assignments at Career Fair Plus each year. Here are some of our favorite ways to keep it all straight and make it work for students.

  1. Plan for for overflow

The last thing you want to be doing right before your event  is moving tables around. Plan your table layout to use the space you have and allow for some extra tables in case you have last-minute sign ups. That way you don’t have to squeeze in extra tables on the map or shift them around at the last minute.

  1. Number your tables logically

Many layouts have rows in the middle and a perimeter of tables on the outside. Try to keep consecutive numbers as close as possible to each other. This will help you understand who might be next to each other at the planning stage and help your students find each booth.

  1. Use a spreadsheet to assign booths

When it’s time to assign booths, start with your list of registered employers in a spreadsheet. Typically, you already have a list of employers in your registration system, so the best thing to do is create a new column for your booths and assign them directly in the spreadsheet. We have seen countless errors crop up when people try to assign the booths using a list that is not based on their registration data. The most common mistakes we see are typos, missing companies, and duplicate companies and these can cause a lot of frustration and confusion right before the big event.

We believe that if you follow these three guidelines, you will have a more successful and satisfying career fair with significantly less frustration for both you and your attendees. I hope you found this useful and invite you to check out Career Fair Plus ( We give you the power to put all of the necessary career fair information directly in the hands of your students.

#TBT…UCF Career Services Takes the Lead – Ready Room

Kathleen Rancourt, University of Central Florida

On Oct 3rd, UCF Career Services offered a new initiative at the already popular Career Expo – The Ready Room.  This year we had approximately 1700 students and over 200 employers who attended the Career Expo.  Career Services spends a lot of time prior to the event providing programs and services to help prepare our  students to meet employers. In addition to current programs and services, we implemented a new approach this Fall by hosting a Ready Room.  The Ready Room provided an opportunity for students to get immediate feedback and coaching prior to meeting with employers.

The Ready Room had four stations.

1. How Do I Look?  Students stood in front of a mirror and were able to get their business suits critiqued.  Scissors, safety pins and bobby pins were all on hand for last minute fixes.   Students were very appreciative for the helpful suggestions on how to dress to impress at future expos and interviews. It was great to see how open students were to getting feedback; some students were literally dashing through the turn-style and asking “How do I look?”

2. Picture Perfect – Students were dressed and looking sharp for their LinkedIn profile photograph.   They were very excited to be able to replace their casual photo for a professional one.  It was also a great  opportunity to educate students on LinkedIn as a powerful networking tool.  This was such a popular station that students who were not able to take their photo before the career expo made sure to return after the expo to have their photo taken.

3. Google Employers –Some students are often unaware of the importance of researching employers  prior to attending a career expo. Students were offered a work station with laptops and practical guidance on how to research employers.  Having knowledge of the companies they were interested in meeting was valued by both students and employers.

4. Practice Run – This station was definitely a hit.  Students were able to practice maintaining eye contact, a firm handshake, a smile and a strong introduction. Students had the chance to work one-on-one with a career professional to try out their pitch.  Not only was this great practice, but also a great confidence booster.

We were excited about this new initiative, but were not expecting such a great turnout.  We had almost 500 students come through the Ready Room and the student feedback was overwhelmingly positive.  After visiting the Ready Room, students were asked to complete feed-back evaluations.  Over 200 evaluations were collected and one hundred percent of students indicated they would recommend the Ready Room to other students.

“I’m so glad this was available.  It is such a valuable resource and made me feel more confident in myself and ready for the career fair.”  – UCF student

 “This was a great addition to the job fair.  It allowed students to not only prep, but release nervous energy before meeting with employers.  Very satisfying!”  – UCF student

#TBT…Next Generation Aviation Career Expo at Broward College, South Campus in Pembroke Pines

aceby Ian Ferguson, Career Advisor, Broward College – South Campus

On July 11, 2012, the Career Center at Broward College’s south campus hosted a unique and successful career fair in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA approached Broward College’s Aviation Institute this past spring with an idea to explore recruitment and career opportunities for aviation students, and this proposed partnership became the nexus for the Next Generation Aviation Career Expo.  The Aviation department enlisted the assistance of Adam DeRosa, the South Campus Career Center Coordinator, who suggested ways to expand the project into the full-scale career fair.  After an initial conference, we scheduled biweekly meetings with key Broward College staff and FAA officials, and the expanded project quickly took shape.

With the assistance of Broward College Job Developer Autumn Whitfield, we began the process of reaching out to various industry-related corporations and federal agencies, taking the initially smaller-scaled symposium and turning it into the multi-corporate Next Generation Career Expo, with a participant list that eventually included Spirit Airlines, Gulfstream, the Transportation Safety Administration, and many more.

Additionally, we enlisted the participation of the major Broward College education departments and organizations from all four campuses, many of which were represented at individual tables at the event.  This enabled Broward College to have its own significant presence at the Expo, taking advantage of a marketing plan that included present, prospective and ace1alumni students as well as the general public.  The Expo culminated with an informative and extremely well-received panel discussion / Q&A session with Federal Aviation Administration officials, leading all involved to look forward to similar events at Broward College in the future.


#TBT…Approaching Employers at Career Fair Events: An Employer Perspective

by Sandi Ohman, Senior Program Manager, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

As career professionals we strive to educate students on how to be successful in all steps of the career process.  We know they don’t always implement this advice – that is evident at the events!  However, when a recruiter or hiring manager shares the same advice with students they tend to take it to heart.

Recently, we reached out to several employers that typically attend the Industry/Career Expo at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, asking for their perspective on students at such an event.  We wanted to know what they look for when students approach their booth.  When determining who they want to interview further, we asked the employers to share some of the basic questions they ask students at the booth.  The response was good and the feedback was somewhat expected and traditional with some exceptions.

The top areas that stood out with employers and made impressions were the following:

  • Knowledge about the company and knows a few specific facts
  • Knows what they want to do for that specific company, or at least have an idea
  • Has the ability to carry on a conversation with the recruiter – so good, or even average, communication skills
  • A good introduction
  • Awareness of strengths and interests
  • A true passion for their career interest
  • A good attitude and shows confidence – whether real or faked
  • Prepared – research, resume, note pad to take notes
  • Well-groomed and dressed appropriately for the event, a good handshake, make eye contact and smile
  • Strong academics

A few tips employers shared that are not as traditional, but still good to consider:

  • Take the initiative to contact previous interns to find out about the positions and company as part of their  preparation
  • Held a job or been involved in extracurricular activities that are related to their major
  • The student doesn’t have to wear a suit and tie, but should still be well groomed and neat.  The clothes should be a complement to the person and what they would bring to the company.

When asked about the questions they ask students, a.k.a. the screening process, the responses were again expected:

  • Where do you want to be geographically? (Especially important for companies far away from the university’s location)
  • What are the skills/knowledge areas you bring to the company?
  • Tell me about your background and experiences?  (Ensures relevance to what the company is looking for in  candidates)
  • Walk me through your resume. (Testing their ability to engage in a conversation about themselves, hitting points like achievements and passion)
  • Why XYZ company? (Especially important at a career event when there are many companies to talk to, often times very similar in function.  This also helps determine motivation)
  • What brought you to ABC university?
  • What type of position are you seeking?  How does your education and experiences relate to this area?
  • Tell me about a project or class that you’ve been involved in, that has prepared for this type of position.
  • What are you not interested in doing professionally?
  • Where do you see yourself professionally, over the next __ years?
  • What are your favorite classes/professor and why?
  • What is your dream job?
  • Why should we select you?

Advice from a sampling of employers does not capture the full scope of the students’ experience at a career fair event, but it is a place to start.  Many will hear this advice, some will listen, even fewer will take it to heart and prepare accordingly.  Those that do gain the reward!


#TBT…Program Improvement Idea: LinkedIn Picture Day for Students

ace 2ace 1Program Improvement Idea: LinkedIn Picture Day for Students

Anne Meehan, Rollins College

This March during our Rollins Career & Internship Expo, we marketed and offered for attendees to have a  professional photo taken for their LinkedIn  profiles.  In February, we started offering LinkedIn workshops to help Rollins College students and alumni set up their profiles and learn how to utilize LinkedIn, but we thought this photo  opportunity would be a nice addition and marketing tactic.  Students and alumni were already dressed  professionally, and we wanted to help promote LinkedIn as well as provide a professional photo opportunity to improve their profiles.  We hired a student  photographer with the right lighting equipment and backdrop so that students could get their photos taken right after they checked-in for the Expo.  We used a sign-in sheet and had attendees write their name on a white board which they posed with in the first  photo.  The photographer then took several photos without the white board so as to get the best photo possible.  Our staff then cropped the photos to fit LinkedIn’s specifications, and sent them via email to the attendees within a week of Expo.

The LinkedIn professional photo idea was a hit!  Out of the 318 students/alumni and 78 employers who attended Career Expo, 103 students/alumni, 10 employers, and 7 staff had their professional LinkedIn photos taken.  Students, alumni, employers and staff all supported the idea and encouraged us to provide this photo service at other venues throughout the year.

We are now looking to offer this professional photo service at our Etiquette Dinners and may consider other events to promote LinkedIn and having a professional photo online.  Feel free to try this fun professional photo opportunity at your next campus or organizational event!

Connection, Spring 2012 Edition