6 Career Fair Tips From the Other Side Of the Table

This post originally appeared on the Seelio Blog but since I wrote it, I figured I’d share it with you here too!

Its almost the end of January, and you know what that means.

If you haven’t already had a second pass at career fairs, you will soon!

Seelio has been at several career fairs this past year, and I can tell you we have observed a lot. I figured, as someone who has been on the other side of that table, we would give you some tips straight from the horse’s- er recruiter’s mouth.

Career Fair

1. Research the Company.

Some people like to wait until the last minute and wing the career fair. If you actually want to find a job here, this is probably a bad idea. It’s pretty demotivating when people come up wanting a job at your company, but they don’t know why. It also makes you feel bad and kind of used, like dating someone because they’re good arm candy. If you don’t want to get to know us, why should we get to know you?

2. Be Memorable.

I once had a friend threaten to come to the career fair in a wet suit. That probably would not have helped much, but it IS still a good idea to make yourself stand out- with your confidence and your pitch. Career fairs are long, real long, and we are standing for most of them talking til we’re blue in the face. We probably won’t remember most of what you tell us unless you can make a genuine connection. My advice, first, know your elevator pitch, but also know something about the company that the rest of the people around you probably won’t know, and engage me about it. Impress me.

3. You’re Resume Gets 6 Seconds, Make it Count.

Recruiters receive many, many resumes in the course of a career fair. I used to get excited with the prospect of each new piece of paper, each new person I got to learn about. Then an hour passed, and reviewing resumes took too long. Recruiters can only afford a few seconds to review your resume, whether it’s standing talking to you or flipping through afterward. We skim to see if something catches our attention, and if we need to we read further. Make sure you have all the basics down (contact info and graduation year easy to see, check for typos), but also make sure your resume is easy to read. If it looks bad to you, it looks bad to us too. If it looks great to you, have someone else look just in case, you can’t be too sure. 

4. Know Your Value.

If you can’t tell me what value you bring to the company, how am I supposed to tell you? While it might sound nice that you are a jack-of-all-trades or that you’re happy to try anything if there is a fit, it also sounds desperate (unless you’re going into consulting). Frankly, we don’t have the time to find the perfect role for you. It’s your job to convince me I want you, not the other way around.

5. Plan Ahead.

Some companies will have long lines. Especially if you have many companies to see or a class to get to, make sure to use your time wisely. Most fairs will provide you with a list of companies beforehand, and a map during. These would be good to plan out your route and budget your time. Also, try to catch a recruiter when they’re still bright eyed and bushy tailed (aka earlier in the day) and if you can, when they’re not surrounded by people.

6. If You Fall Down, Get Back Up.

Not so much of a recruiter anecdote, but a personal tip. Career fairs can seem discouraging. A recruiter may be ask really hard questions, or worse, be uninterested, but don’t let it get you down. There are several companies at any given career fair, and if talking to one doesn’t work out, brush yourself off, take a deep breath, and continue. Career fairs are tough on everyone, but give yourself a pep talk, reward yourself with some candy, whatever it takes, you can do it (and get free swag in the process).

While some of this may seem somewhat scary, it doesn’t have to be. The bottom line is recruiters come to career fairs because THEY want to be successful, they want YOU to be successful.

Chances are if a recruiter is representing a company they either love people, or love the company, so all you have to do is take care of the rest. Have a little confidence in yourself. With some advanced preparation, and some good ol’ mirror pep talks, you can totally do it.

Questions about this post? More tips to share? e-mail Chelsea (chelsea@seelio.com)

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