Getting the Inside Scoop: Career Fair Success

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.