Getting the Inside Scoop: Career Fair Success

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Brenda Marte is a dual major in Marketing and Finance in the D’Amore-McKim school of business, and plans to pursue a Master’s in Computer Science. She studied abroad in Spain, which has motivated her to pursue her next co-op abroad as well, specifically in Latin America.

Co-op allows undergrads the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in a company, and learn what a future position within that firm holds.  I am currently a middler at Northeastern University and doing a co-op within campus recruitment in University Relations at Liberty Mutual Insurance. Working in campus recruitment and engaging with campus recruiters gives me great insight into what campus recruiters and employers like Liberty Mutual expect from students.

Since I’ve been able to get an inside scoop from the recruiters’ perspective, I want to share some do’s and don’ts for attending the Northeastern Career Fair October 3, 2013. Here are few tips and suggestions to keep in mind when meeting a potential employer:

1. Preparing to Prepare

Recruiters arrive at career fairs expecting students to be interested in learning more about their firm and be prepared with questions to learn more about the company and/or the candidate selection process.

High school hasn't prepared you for career climb

Prior to arriving at the fair, aim to “wow” a targeted set of employers, rather than going in blind with 50 (or 200, which is usually the case at Northeastern fairs) tables of recruiters to shake hands with.  Arrive having researched the firm, programs you wish to participate in, and their career and internship opportunities. This shows your intent to make a good and long-lasting impression within a sea of students. Having a game plan before attending the fair, can be the difference between getting in the “do contact” and the “don’t contact” pile of resumes.

2. First Impression Jitters

I can relate to the nerves you feel when first meeting a recruiters. So, to assure that you are relaxed when networking at a career fair, make sure that you are:

  • The Whole Package: Do dress comfortably and professionally, and be ready to impress; don’t let your attire negatively distract from your experience and accomplishments – but add your personality in your ensemble.
  • Organized: Make sure you do have a resume ready for distribution when asked, don’t fumble through a folder of disorganized materials.
  • Cohesive Throughout: Do create mental bullet points of potential talking points, from what the recruiter is describing to you. Don’t appear that your only mission is to have them take your resume and pick up some promotional giveaways. Instead, demonstrate interest and curiosity.

3. A Conversation About Conversation

At my co-op, I’ve had the privilege to work with campus recruiters that are extremely accommodating and easy to talk to. I feel comfortable speaking about my future career aspirations. At career fairs, many recruiters will try to make the exchange conversational. Don’t forget the career fair is not a social event. What you say and how you portray yourself reflects on the recruiters’ determination of whether you will fit within their organization.

Keeping the conversation short and to the point is always a plus because you aren’t the only student recruiters have to speak with.  A short outline can help you stay on topic and assures that you do not extend your 30-second pitch into a 30-minute life story. Prepare a concise story that shows what kind of student and potential employee you can be for the firm.

Make sure to end your conversation with a proper and professional goodbye. It often becomes very hectic at career fairs, and recruiters may become sidetracked by distractions. Wait patiently and acknowledge how busy they are. End with a thankful handshake and the possibility to speak to them one on one in the future. Doing so will leave a good last impression.

career fair cartoon

Employers attend career fairs with the intention of branding their company and meeting potential candidates to fill their jobs. They want to hear the story beyond your resume. Networking with employers increases your chance to work with the firm as a co-op or full time employee. The opportunities these recruiters bring on campus are endless – as students it’s our job to attend and discover what those opportunities are. Career fairs can be overwhelming, but with preparation, you may walk away with a new professional connection, knowledge of career opportunities, and even the potential to interview for a job.   Armed with these insider tips from campus recruiters, you will no doubt be on your way to career fair success.

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