Hospitals, physician’s offices, home healthcare services, nursing care facilities, schools, and community health centers all use career fairs to field, interview, and hire thousands of nurses each year. However, understanding how to prepare for a nursing career fair will not only help you to stand out and make a great first impression, but will also increase your chances at getting hired!
Career fairs are, by-far, one of the best opportunities to introduce yourself to hiring managers and scope out which companies, facilities, and hospitals are looking to hire nurses. You’ll be meeting with potential employers who are looking to make a new hire immediately or shortly after meeting and will need to be prepared to meet with dozens of potential employers.
Below, we are going to review what you should do before, during, and after a nursing career fair to make it as successful as possible. While taking the steps below doesn’t guarantee success, it will definitely help you to create a great first impression and meet with hiring managers from hospitals and employers around you.
What to do Before a Nursing Career Fair
Prepare Your Resume
Your resume is your single best source for landing an interview and creating new opportunities. Your resume is meant to be a succinct reflection of your previous work history and your educational attainments.
Before attending a career fair, you will want to prepare your resume. This means updating your work and educational history to reflect any recent changes. In addition, as a nursing student, it is important to input your expected date of graduation. This will help potential employers with assessing your candidacy and likelihood of accepting a full-time, part-time, or internship position.
In addition to reviewing your resume, it may be helpful to have a trusted friend, family member, or school counselor review and complete a second look. This will help you to ensure that there are no typos, grammatical errors, or mistakes which you may have overlooked.
Lastly, it may be a good idea to print your resume on resume paper. Resume paper is typically thicker and more professional than regular printer paper and will help you to better stand-out and appear more professional.
Create an Elevator Pitch
During a career fair, you will be meeting with multiple different employers and companies. This dizzying number of employers will likely have you feeling fatigued and slightly overwhelmed.
Rather than appear nervous or unsure of yourself, you should develop and work-on an elevator pitch before the career fair. An elevator pitch is simply a quick summary of yourself. They should take no longer than 75-seconds and typically fall within the 30-60 seconds range.
Elevator pitches are important as they will help you to provide a comprehensive and succinct summary of your background. You will be able to provide a quick summary of your work and educational history and be able to use it as an introduction to a hiring manager.
Conduct Thorough Research
While you may be tempted to wing-it and attend the nursing career fair without research, we highly recommend against it. Career fairs are typically teeming with employers, hiring managers, and other students looking to land a competitive internship, interview, or full-time position.
Before the career fair, you should research the companies and employers whom are expected to be in attendance. You should research what positions they currently have available and which ones you would be most interested in. in addition, you should research the company and have a baseline understanding of what they provide and what they are looking for in an employee.
Prepare Your Outfit
Now, career fairs aren’t interviews, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dress to impress. When preparing for an upcoming nursing career fair, you should assemble a wardrobe that is presentable, professional, and business-like. You will likely be judged based on your initial meeting and do not want to squander an opportunity due to a lack of appropriate attire.
In general, when attending a career fair, you will want to dress in a business professional attire. This means dress pants, dress shirt, and a tie for men and slacks and a blouse coupled with a sweater or business jacket for women.
Nursing is traditionally a conservative career and industry and often leans towards conservative attire. That means that you should be careful to not show too much exposed skin and stick with conservative, neutral colors, such-as black, dark blue, and gray tones.
What to do During a Nursing Career Fair
Focus on Your Target Employers
As stated above, career fairs are typically teeming with activity and people. You will want to arrive early and immediately focus on your target employers. These are the employers that match-up with what you are looking for and closely align to your skillsets.
It is important to focus on your target employers from the get-go to ensure that you have adequate time and attention to speak with them. You don’t want to spend your time discussing opportunities with an employer you’re not interested in, potentially squandering time that you could have been speaking with more qualified employers.
Network and Inquire on Next Steps
In addition to meeting with your target employers, be sure to continue to network and inquire on next steps. Some employers may have specific steps on how to apply and submit your application.
Additionally, you should work on your networking and connections during the nursing career fair. Speak to hiring managers and don’t be afraid to ask them if you can connect with them LinkedIn.
Inquire on All Positions
While it may be tempting to solely focus on full-time positions, it may be worthwhile to inquire on part-time, internships, and student positions. These positions can help you to get your foot in the door and build-up your resume as you complete your education.
What to do After a Nursing Career Fair
Follow-Up on Applications
Immediately after the nursing career fair, it is important to apply to all open positions with the companies you spoke to and showed interest with. This will help you to ensure you don’t forget to apply to any positions which you may have been interested in.
In addition, immediately after the nursing career fair, you should connect with any employers and hiring managers you met on LinkedIn. This will help to create a more memorable impression of you and allow you to keep up with connections in the industry.
Career fairs are stressful, so once you’re done be sure to kick-back and relax! You did a great job and now it’s time to wait-and-see!