careerfair-image RIT hosts it’s Spring 2015 career fair on March 4th 2015 with a full complement of interested employers and enthusiastic students lining up to shape their future. Getting hired while still in college is one of the best feelings, one that I can recall. Whether it is a co-op/internship or a full time job you are after, making that first impression and maintaining the connection with the recruiter is important. As someone who has been a consultant for several years, I have been through more than a handful of these interviews myself. I also had a chance to meet four recruiters at a mixer who were nice enough to share some tips. What you see here is just what I have learnt from experience having been on both sides of that interview table and the wisdom of some willing recruiters.

5 things to do at a career fair

1) Make a list, an excel sheet will suffice.
This is the most fundamental thing you can do. On this sheet you need columns for who (him/her by name) of the recruiter, what positions they seek to fill, minimum requirements for the position and the preferred qualifications for the position. Refer to this before you talk to them, show them specifically how you can fit into the organization and where you can make the best contributions. Recruiters will even create jobs for you if you can impress them.

2) Apply for the right jobs, before you arrive. The smile shake and leave is so yesterday.
A common sight at many recruiting events is the simple smile first, shake hands next, ask to leave your resume and then walk away. Some companies do this just to get a bunch of resume and do the selection later. Most firms nowadays want you to apply online at their site before they even talk to you. Essentially, they are getting some facetime with you before deciding on who to pursue for the job. So, apply first online if the employer asks you to and then inform the recruiter that you already applied and would like to find out more about the job, the working environment and ask interesting questions about the company.

3) Take a card, leave a card and some collateral material
Business cards are still used here. A cool business card design could be a talking point, use it wisely. Always leave the recruiter with something of value that is specific to them. By this, I am not talking about a resume, something more. I myself give them a simple one page document that outlines where I fit in the organization and how I can use my expertise to add value to something the company is doing at this very time. This means you will need to do some research ahead of time, this will pay off. Sometimes a small portfolio of items like writing samples, particularly successful examples of school projects or work at previous employment (if you have permission to share) are great items to leave with the recruiter. Some recruiters mention that they get hounded by emails and hence do not hand out contact information so do not be offended if they are not willing to share their contact information. Rest assured that they will be in touch if they want you.

4) Ask the right questions
Every recruiter is bored of the questions they have to ask you and the standard list of items they have come to answer. Do not ever ask a recruiter, “what jobs do you have open”. Think of it like a first date, your want the recruiter to know that you have done the work in researching the company without being creepy. Here is a list of 10 questions to ask during an interview at a career fair or just about any interview.

5) Be there early and leave early
Get there early, in fact get there when the fair opens and you can walk in. Go in the previous day and get the layout and the locations of your chosen employers. When you get there, make a beeline for the jobs you want based on your priorities. Recruiters are tired and have mostly lost their voice by the evening. Like you at the end of the day, they may even find it difficult to talk after hours of smiling, standing and talking. If you have done your homework, you know who to talk to, where they are and what questions to ask. Spend the remaining time for schmoozing, networking and touching base with friends who may know of more opportunities after their initial rounds.

This is your moment to shine. Be confident without being arrogant and I wish you the very best. Remember Please and Thank You are your friends. May the odds be ever in your favor.

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