From a Recruiter: Career Fairs, Info Sessions, & Networking…Oh My!

The season is upon us…campus recruitment season, that is. And if you are a junior or senior (or an eager freshman or sophomore), chances are you will be attending a lot of events this fall ranging from formal corporate presentations to more casual networking lunches. The tricky part? You won’t be alone.

During these events it can be very easy to feel like a number. To feel like just another great student interested in learning about internship or full time opportunities. How can you break through and stand out on campus? Well, as a recruiter who handles campus initiatives, I am here to give you some insider tips and tricks. Here are the do’s and don’ts of making a positive impact on campus!

FindSpark Opp Mixer

Photo courtsey of Stephanie Banares

First things first, do get information direct from the source: career development.

If you think you don’t need to visit or be in touch with the career development office until pretty close to graduation, you are missing out on a great resource. With very little exception, the career development office (CDO) is also the employer relations office. Meaning the companies that are coming to campus are organizing their visits through the CDO. So whether you’re looking for the full recruitment calendar, or there’s an employer you are particularly interested in speaking with, chances are the CDO is the best place to get that information. Even if your employer of choice is not coming to visit, the CDO can likely help you make the connection.

Be picky. Don’t feel the need to attend every event from every company.

Once you’ve gotten a list of employers and events taking place on campus, don’t be afraid to be picky about the ones you attend. Selecting a short, but targeted list of employers and events to attend will help ensure that your interest is genuine, your questions are well thought out and you are able to be present for as long as needed. That being said, make sure you read up on the companies coming to campus because chances are they picked your school for a specific reason. Do a bit of research into each company to learn about their culture and opportunities so you can make informed decisions about which sessions to attend.

In fact, if you are unsure of whether or not a certain employer would have the right opportunities for you, ask the CDO. As employers, we often start our campus season with introductory calls with the CDO to make sure the school is the right fit and to solicit their help in targeting the right students.

This is especially true for career fairs. There can sometimes be hundreds of employers at a fair. Make sure you pick a handful that you absolutely want to speak. That way you can afford to wait in line and can ensure you made the most of this event.

All recruitment events are not created equal. So don’t treat them all the same.

Info sessions are a great way for employers to spread the word on their company, culture, and opportunities in a quick and efficient way. Career Fairs allow students to explore these elements for multiple companies. And smaller sessions like networking lunches or classroom visits are an opportunity to dive deep and for both employers and students to have more targeted, memorable discussions. Your very specific questions about your individual case should not be asked in the context of a 75 person info session, and general questions like “what exactly does your company do” might not be the best for an intimate networking lunch. When it comes to events, the general rule of thumb should be the larger the audience, the more general the information and questions. If you are looking for answers to specific questions or to tell your unique story, arrive early or stay late to try and get 1 on 1 time with a member of the employer team.

Your introduction can be the difference between a generic and targeted conversation.

No matter what event you’re attending, it’s important to introduce yourself. And what I mean by this is say your first name, class year, and major or area of interest. The difference between “Hi I’m Michelle” and “Hi, I’m Michelle. I am a junior Psychology major interested in pursuing marketing” means that the company rep can either direct you to speak with one of the marketers who is in attendance or can immediately get you the information on opportunities that are relevant to you. For more insight into successful networking conversation, read this great article by FindSpark founder and CEO, Emily Miethner.

FindSpark Michelle Corbett

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Banares

Don’t be that guy who visits one booth ten times.

After meeting with an employer at a career fair you may be so pumped up and excited that you want to go back. After all, what better way to make an impression than to make it ten times, right? The truth is that usually when a candidate visits a booth, the company reps will speak with them, take their resume, and write some initial notes and hopefully (if you’ve been following the earlier guidelines) adding a star or some sort of indication that this candidate is someone to follow up with. That is pretty much the best case scenario for a career fair. Even if you have the best intentions and just want to learn everything you can about the company, coming back multiple times throughout the day and speaking to different people will likely end up backfiring. The truth is that at career fairs, employers bring a lot of reps so they can take shifts and try to see as many different students as possible. Visiting each rep is taking away their time with other students and labeling you as “that guy”…a label you don’t want on campus.

Instead, make sure you make the most of your visit and end the conversation by asking, “I am so excited by this company and opportunity. What’s the best way for me to follow up?”

Yes, SWAG is cool, but it shouldn’t be the reason you visit a company’s booth.

It’s true that one of the best career fair bonuses can be the amount of SWAG you can walk out with. But let me tell you, the best way to make a negative impression is to visit a company booth just for the SWAG. As a L’Oreal recruiter, I see this a lot. We often have great products in our display and have people subtly (or not so subtly) walking by our table swiping product. If a company has cool SWAG take a minute and think about why it’s interesting to you. Do you collect totebags? Are you on an ultimate frisbee team? Do you love Kiehl’s and didn’t know L’Oreal owned it? Each of those answers could easily become part of your introduction and a great way to learn more about a company you hadn’t realized you could be interested in.

FindSpark Networking

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Banares

So this campus season, remember the tips: Collect information from the CDO. Research and pick a few targeted companies. Prepare questions based on the event you go to. Introduce yourself in a clear way that will get you the information you need and trust that your first impression using these tips will be the right one, so you won’t need to keep going back.

Did you kick butt and make a great impression at a campus event? Tell us what you did in the comments below.

2 comment on “From a Recruiter: Career Fairs, Info Sessions, & Networking…Oh My!

  1. Pingback: From a Recruiter: Career Fairs, Info Sessions and Networking…Oh My! | Statesman News Service

  2. Pingback: From a Recruiter: Career Fairs, Info Sessions and Networking…Oh My! | Omaha Sun Times

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