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Career Fair Advice From the Other Side of the Table: What a Fortune 500 Company Looks For

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Advice You Can Use at Your Next Career Fair

Recruiting season is in full swing!

We caught up with one recruiter from a Fortune 500 company who was on campus at the University of Michigan last week. This company is a major player in the energy space and is frequently on campus recruiting for talented undergraduate students to join their general sales and marketing internship program. We only had a minute but grabbed some quick advice from this recent MBA grad turned recruiter so you can blow employers away at your next career fair or recruiting session!

What impressed you most about the students you met with?

I was extremely impressed with how much students had already accomplished. From having performed deep, substantive work for both large companies and startups, to volunteering for social impact organizations, to a wide variety eye-opening international travel experiences, the breadth of their experiences was phenomenal.

One student came in with an example of a pitch deck that he put together for a student investing club that he’s involved in. This impressed us, both because it showed his initiative and intellectual curiosity to get involved in real work outside the classroom, and because it enabled him to better illustrate the type of analysis that he’s capable of.

What were you surprised that students didn’t know?

Many of the students we talked with struggled to place their experiences in context and explain how the arc of their experiences has led them to be interested in this specific opportunity with our company. Some also struggled to convey what they perceive to be their weaknesses in an open, honest way.

What do you look for to move an applicant forward?

In a nutshell, we look for how their experience has led them to be a great fit for this opportunity, and how well they’re able to convey that.

Now that you’re recruiting, what do you wish you had known when you were on the other side of the table? 

It’s not always about having an extremely intricate knowledge of the company or any one specific interview answer. It’s more about a high level narrative that matches your experiences with this particular opportunity, and your overall ability to communicate your thoughts effectively that matters.


One more tip from us? Taking time to reflect on your experiences, and writing them down (or capturing them on Seelio!) can help you better tell your story to recruiters.

What works for you? Share your career fair advice with us on Twitter @seelio.

 

Career Fair – 6 Tips From the Other Side of the Table

It’s 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 demotivating when people come up wanting a job at your company, but they don’t know why. It 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’re 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 do it.

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