Career fair is a fantastic opportunity to lock down an internship or full-time position and avoid sending your resume into the online black hole. Let’s take a look at the what students and recruiters have found to be the most successful ways to crush the career fair. Even the biggest procrastinator can take just two hours and be prepared for career fair!
Here is a good resource with templates to utilize in improving your resume. Key factors to focus on with your resume are a clean, easy to read format. Relevant work experience with numbers to accurately represent your impact and any leadership, research or extracurriculars that provide insight to your skillset.
Great examples may include :
“Migrated database to MySQL and reduced overhead by 100GB”
“Redesigned user authentication leading to a 50% increase in sign-ups”
The recruiter and subsequent engineers reading the resume know exactly what engineering task you did, and the specific impact your work correlates to.
Be very familiar with the content on your resume and be able to talk about any of the experiences and points you have listed. Sometimes candidates embellish the experience, impact or skills and it quickly becomes apparent to a recruiter.
Don’t ever blindly walk into a career fair without a game plan. Prior to the career fair make sure you take a look at your school’s career fair event on their website, or if they use a service such as Handshake and scope out what industries and companies you would be interested in.
Filtering by industry allows you to have a broader scope so that you are aware of many different companies that all operate in the same space and not just the big well-known corporations.
It’s hard to spend all day at career fair, and even if you can you can’t see every company. Create a list and prioritize companies that you want to speak with and if you have extra time you can visit other companies.
For all the companies on your list take some time to check out their websites and google them. They typically have information on their internship and new-hire programs containing information about rotations, previous projects completed by interns, and what skills they’re looking for. This research is critical. Having all this information is like going to take a test with all the answers, you will be able to pitch yourself well to the recruiter because you’ll know exactly what they are looking for. Be ready to ask them meaningful questions about the company, culture, projects, impact, independence, responsibility and whatever else you find important.
If you’re afraid you might forget, jot down a few notes about each company and keep in the folder with your resumes so you can quickly refresh before you go network with them.
Tech is typically the most relaxed industry for recruitment and don’t usually require much outside of a button down and khaki pants. However, we recommend dressing more conservatively with a suit, blouse, slacks or tie if available. Being dressed up not only will make you look fantastic and more presentable, but it will boost your confidence and improve your attitude. A lot of people feel nervous or start to worry when many others at career fair are dressed impeccably - don’t let this be something you have to deal with.
Be sure your clothes are picked out and clean, if you don’t have access to a suit try to borrow some clothes from a friend, the career services center at your school or second hand clothing stores.
Make sure you smile and give a nice firm handshake when you first walk up to a recruiter and hand them a resume. As soon as you hand your resume over you should begin your elevator pitch which should be about 45-60 seconds. When the recruiter has your resume as you give your elevator pitch, it makes it easy for them to listen to make notes and follow along with your resume.
Be sure to speak enthusiastically and with passion about yourself and your work, it’s important to have energy and show interest in what you’ve done and in the company so that the recruiter knows how passionate you are!
Your elevator pitch should end by tying in your interests and experiences with the mission and goal of the company.
After an elevator pitch the recruiter may ask you to go into specific details about internships, research, or projects you have worked on. The questions may range from technical challenges to your personal interests.
When asked technical questions be sure you’re prepared by having reviewed your resume before the career fair and being concise but giving enough detail about why and what you accomplished and the outcome. It is imperative you sell yourself on these explanations and you are specific with numbers to measure your contribution.
You are basically bragging about the value you could add to a company and the impact you are capable of making.
Ask meaningful questions that you previous researched or about the company’s culture, their teams and workflows as well as anything else that comes to mind.
After you’ve done an excellent job of selling yourself and your experiences, and a few thoughtful questions thank the recruiter and shake his/her hand and ask for a business card so that you can follow up.
You want to obtain resources from them so that you can follow up to inquire about interviews, deadlines, and positions as well as be able to contact the recruiter down the road should you need anything.
Companies typically conduct on-campus interviews the days after a career fair and it is a hectic time in which you will be stressed and swamped with school, studying, and interviewing.
It is extremely important however to follow-up through email and send the recruiter a thank you note. You should introduce yourself, recap the conversation you had and what you were able to learn from the recruiter as well as emphasizing your interest in the company and how you would be a good fit. Be sure to close by thanking them and asking to stay in touch regarding any opportunities.
Hopefully you’re able to utilize this plan of attack and find success at the next career fair and have your inbox swarming with interview requests. We’d love to hear feedback from you guys and what else you’d like for us to write about!