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Career Fair Preparation

By: Nick Foley

There are two career fairs hosted by Fisher that provide students with a great opportunity to build relationships with companies. There are many people with different goals that attend the career fair. One goal may be to attain a job offer whereas another might be to build a rapport with several companies. Attaining these goals can follow a three step process: preparation, execution and reaching out to the recruiter.

The Fisher Career Fair is a four-hour networking event for student to meet with other companies. Recruiters are searching for students who would seem to be a good fit with their company. While recruiters are looking for experienced students, it is a good idea to attend as a freshman:

“There are a select few companies that hire freshmen” Says Isabella Cromleigh a fourth year marketing major and peer career coach in the Office of Career Management specializing in professional communications. “I think the best way for freshmen to attend the career fair is to view it as a networking event in order to mold the future relationships with those recruiters”

The Fisher Career Fair is a professional networking event with real business professionals. As such, the dress code is business professional so that students can put their best foot forward.

The career fair can be a new experience and have high stakes. Preparation is a strong way to increase your chances of attaining your goal. Researching companies and staying current can give you the upper edge on your competition. It also displays that you are interested in the company which can make an impression. Reaching out to people who work for the company and hearing what they have to say can also give you the upper edge over your competition.

“If you have any connections that work at the company it would be wise to reach out to them and hear their experience” says Isabella. “See if they have anything in specific that they feel you should talk about or if they can guide you through what to say.”

A great first impression can set you apart from other students who have the same cliché passion for [insert business major]. Making that connection with the recruiter in the first 15 seconds is a sign of a strong elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a way to sell your accomplishments through a story in under 30 seconds. It may sound weird to talk about yourself if you are not used to networking, but it is a crucial component to letting other companies know why you are a great fit for the job. Aligning your values with the company’s values is a good way to show the recruiter you would be a good fit for the position. Preparing a good question is a good way to transition from your elevator speech into questions you have about the company. There are good questions that are specific and show that you are knowledgeable about the position or company. Vague questions show the recruiter that you have not researched the company. The preparation stage is where most students will spend most of their time.

Executing on your preparation will be the most rewarding and exciting part of the career fair process. It is a time to meet many new people and get to talk about companies of your interest. When you are at the fair, knowing where the company’s booths are can save you time and allow you to meet with more companies. Looking lost and not knowing where you are walking next, may reflect poorly on yourself. When you are waiting in line, review your elevator speech and talking points. The career fair is not a place to make new friends, but you can still be friendly to the people in line. When approaching the recruiter, you should have a firm handshake and a smile. It is in your best interest to come off as confident and friendly. Bombarding the recruiter with your elevator speech immediately may make the recruiter feel apprehensive, since you are meeting for the first time. Whenever the time seems appropriate, ask the recruiter if he or she would like a copy of your resume. Many times they will ask for your resume if you do not ask. After your elevator speech a great transition into conversation about the company would be to ask your specific question that you have prepared. It keeps the conversation interesting for the recruiter and can give you good insight about the position or company. If the conversation is flowing and all feels right, asking a question about how the recruiter got involved in the company is always a safe question. Asking about them personally shows that you are not obsessed with your own accomplishments and it is nice for the recruiter to talk about themselves instead of listening to other people talk.

“A lot of the times, the recruiter is trying to gauge your personality.” Says Issabelle. “You can tell a lot about a person about how you approach the situation, whether you are trying to build a relationship with the recruiter or if you are just trying to get a job”

After the conversation seems to be ending, ask for a business card. If they do not have their email listed on their card or do not have a card, ask if they have an email that you can reach out to them. Shake their hand, smile and use their name when ending the conversation. Continue to the next booth and hopefully this time you will feel less anxious about talking to a recruiter.

If you had a good conversation with the recruiter, you should reach out and thank them for their time. The email should include a summary of why you would be a good fit for the position and your interest in the company. Reaching out is the simplest of the steps and relies heavily on your memory of your conversation. If you wrote notes or collected business cards, writing the email may be easier.  This is a great way to remain professional and reaffirm your interest with the company. You never know when you will come in contact with the same person in the future.

“I took advantage of the networking events that companies host on campus” says Isabella. “I was able to talk to the people at the networking events and the career fair to talk to a lot of people which lead to multiple interviews which is actually where I got an offer for my internship.”