Students Get The Job Search Wrong

I attended a college career fair recently and was somewhat shocked at the conversations that occurred with me as well as a few I overheard. Granted, this was the first college career fair that I have attended in easily 10 years, which hopefully means I came into this experience with an unbiased opinion as to what would transpire.

The students who attended had one common theme: what can the company do for them. As a recruiter, this is not a question I ever want to be asked. An employer doesn’t have to do anything for a job seeker. PERIOD. End of sentence. Move along please.

What I learned is that colleges, universities, career services, and the specific “colleges” (i.e. – College of Business, College of Science, College of Education, etc.) need to drill into minds is that it isn’t about the student. The students need to focus on 6 key areas before, during and after a career fair.

Dress For Success

Yes, often overstated but seldom adhered to. Recruiters have their own preferences in this area but I am a believer in the conservative suit for men and women. What if your company is business casual or strictly casual? Come in a suit. Why? Because at a career fair you will interact with a wide variety of organizations and it is better to stay on the side of being conservative over what you wore to that 9 AM philosophy class.

Elevator Pitch

Please, please, please do not hand me your resume and try to talk with me. Put together your pitch that you will repeat 50 times in a 2 hour window to highlight your experience and sell yourself as someone a company would be missing not to have. I don’t want to hear about what classes you’ve taken either. I want to hear what you’ve done and how it will help any company.

It’s About Who?

Don’t walk up to a recruiter and say something that resembles the following: “Hi, I’m John and I’m looking for a position in Marketing. What can you do for me?” Actually, I can do nothing for you so move on. A career fair is about the company and how the student/job seeker can help the organization. Job seekers shouldn’t be confused in this aspect.

Being Prepared

This is the killer. If you show up to talk with me and say “um, I don’t know what you do but I’m looking for a career in sales.” Really? You just sold your way out of being considered for any positions I have available. The best way to get around the companies you are unfamiliar with is to…

Use Your Cell Phone

First off, turn your ringer off whenever you are in an interviewing setting. Now, if you haven’t gotten a company attendee list in the days leading up to the career fair from any of the 100 locations around campus advertising the fair, don’t worry. Have your phone at the ready and review the company’s you are unfamiliar with as you walk around. Do a walk through first to see the companies and see those you know and those you wish to learn about. Take your time and build your plan to maximize each stop.

Thank You

Identify the 3, 4 or 5 companies that you felt were of interest for you to start a career with and make sure you follow up with the recruiter. Keep it brief but show your interest and restate how you can help the company.

The entry-level job market is certainly a competitive space and students need to take every advantage of this impression. Trust me, recruiters take note of those that separate themselves from everyone else.

 

 

Photo Credit to Riverview Gardens School District and Video Credit to WorldTalkLIVE.