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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)

7 Job Search Tips I Wish I Had Known Before Senior Year

Chelsea HunersenIn college, worrying about classes, study abroad and your roommate relationship seem like the most important things in life, until senior year. Now, more than ever, it’s important to start on the job game early! Starting on the job hunt should occur at least November of your senior year if not earlier.

After spending 7 years in the internship game, searching for 9 months to find my ideal job and spending a while in the recruiting-startup world, I’m on the other side. I figured I would share some of the wisdom I have gained with you. It’s a tad bit of a long post, but stick with me, I promise its a quick read!

1) Companies have Recruiting Cycles.

Especially if you are looking at a new grad program or a job in a more corporate environment, be aware of specific deadlines. Some businesses will bring in campus reps or start the recruiting cycles on campus, but if you are interested in a certain company, you should be sure to look for that company’s dates before your senior year.

NOTE: This often does not apply to startups, which recruit much closer to when they will actually need talent!

2) The Summer Before Senior Year Counts.

Many companies will offer interns full time offers after their senior year, some will not. Even if you aren’t expecting an offer from your internship, this summer counts. Recruiters will often ask for references, work experiences, knowledge of industry, etc. If you haven’t had any work experience before senior year, it becomes much harder to prove your prowess in the workplace. Besides, this is a great time to experiment with something and see if you would be interested in doing it for the next several years. Even if you don’t know exactly what you plan to do post-college, try to do something!

3) Your First Job Post-College Does NOT Define Your Life.

Second semester senior year is full of worried seniors planning out their life. The question, “What are you doing next year?” brings on blank stares and the desire to hide. Those seniors not headed to medical school seem concerned that whatever job they get right out of college will define their entire career. It won’t.

It is true that being purposeful about employment is a good thing (this article from YouTern explains why), and that you shouldn’t just take any old job, but so many people change jobs within the first few years after college. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker stays at his/her job for 4.4 years, and it is half that for younger workers.  At 22 years old, how are you actually supposed to know what to do with the rest of your life anyway?

4) You Will Probably Not Work the Job You Think You Will.

This is similar to the point above. Unless you are in a specific program (like Finance or Chemical Engineering), you have a wide breadth of career options. The bigger challenge is figuring out your strengths and what to do with them. I know Political Science majors in marketing, International Studies majors in business analysis, Music majors in recruiting, even Geological Engineering majors in film Production (yes, you got that right). In a best-case scenario, you might even get a job and end up morphing it into something totally different based on the company’s needs and your interests.

Investigate every opportunity, follow your heart and see where you end up!

5) Your Friends Will Probably Get Better Jobs Than You.

Actually, they probably won’t, but it might feel like they will. Job searching senior year is competitive and draining on everyone. Some people get lucky and get it figured out early, and others may take a while. Eventually, if you stay persistent, you can get there.

6) Your Network is Essential.

No joke, a strong network is one of the most important tools in your job-hunting arsenal. This network should be built over time and should include people such as your professors, friends, friends’ parents, former co-workers, and anyone else you meet along the way. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that someone in a different industry will never be able to help you. People have friends, their friends have friends and friends have friends, you see where this is going? If every person creates a network like yours that’s a pretty big network to which you now have access. I’ve met people at coding meetups for beginners, that have helped me with job opportunities later on. Take every opportunity to meet people, and stay in touch, because eventually, those connections might be able to help! I can’t stress this enough.

BONUS TIP: reach out to people you might not know, but want in your network. Of course, be courteous and respectful of people’s need for privacy, but if you can, ask for advice or for an informational interview. Some might not respond, but many will and want to help!

7) Preparation is Important, and the Internet is helpful! With the rise of the Internet comes a golden opportunity to prepare for your job search.

The first thing you should do, and I mean as soon as you finish this post, is to build your personal brand. This means making sure your online accounts are clean and up to date, your LinkedIn and Seelio are built and your online reputation capital is in check. You should also showcase your expertise or interest in a given field by starting a blog or connecting over social media with relevant information. Even if you aren’t an expert, showcasing your interest and documenting your journey proves you are willing to put effort into a project. Who knows, this might even get you noticed by a recruiter. Building this kind of credibility early (yes, as early as sophomore year in college) will only help you in the long run.

You can also use the Internet to research companies before career fairs and to understand possible jobs. For example, if you want to work as a Community Manager check out some Community Manager job postings to see the kinds of skills and experience they require. Then if you are interested, see if you can build up experiences in the areas they mention. Also be sure to look into the different kinds of jobs. Read industry articles, ask around, look at job boards and see what kinds of roles might actually be available in your desired profession. 

Finally, make sure to take the standard tips including always, always, always PROOFREADING your resume, in fact, get someone else to proof read it too. Just like that one fry in the bottom of the bag, there will almost always be a typo somewhere. Also, Google yourself. Do these things every few months, you never know what opportunities might pop up.

Job applications can be scary, and for many, a long process, but you can do it! With hard work, persistence, preparation, and maybe even a Seelio you can find a job that’s great for you. Good luck!


If you want to find out more about my qualifications, see here. Have questions or want to hear more about my job hunting experience? E-mail me (chelsea@seelio.com).

Career Tip: Mastering the Networking Game



As you start your career search you hear it over and over again:

It’s all about networking!

But, when you’re new to the game, networking seems daunting and a just a little bit impossible. When I graduated I thought networking meant going to paid events where you and hundreds of other twenty-somethings jostle around a room with a few recruiters or companies and try to make as many quick connections as possible only to leave with a feeling of exhausted frenzy.

Then I learned that networking doesn’t need to be daunting and it’s something you can (and should continue to) do at any stage in your career.

While you might not be able to network like a whiz at the start, we’ve paraphrased some great tips from a post on The Fast Track by Alexandra Levit about 5 networking tips you haven’t heard before:

Start Your Own Club or Group

Look around to see if people are already meeting up around one your interests (you might find something like MHacks– the largest student hackathon in the Midwest). If you don’t find something to join, start a club or group for people with similar interests to share ideas and resources.  Set up meetings on a regular basis, in a convenient location. If you can’t meet in person, you could even set up a Google Hangout!

Look for Individuals, not Opportunities

Opportunities are attached to people.  Identify the people in your network who always seem to have their hands in interesting pots– like other students on Seelio, professors, or thought leaders on Twitter.  Try to understand what makes them hubs of opportunity and resolve to meet and develop bonds with more people with these characteristics.

Create an “Intriguing People” Fund

Automatically funnel a certain percentage of your budget into a bucket that pays for coffees, lunches, and the occasional bus or plane ticket to meet new people and build up existing relationships.  Pick a person that you want to get to know better, and for several months, invest time and energy into building the relationship via shared knowledge and offers to help.

Connect the Dots in Your Network

Tap into your school’s alumni network to find great connections. When you can, pair individuals together who have similar interests, and make introductions via e-mail.  You may not benefit immediately, and that’s okay.  Then, think about a challenge you are dealing with and ask an existing connection for an introduction to someone who could help.  Jump-start the process by offering a small gift – such as a relevant article – to the person you want to meet.

Do the Job Search Test

If you needed to find a job today, who are the ten people you’d e-mail for advice on what to do next?  Reach out to them now, when you don’t need anything specifically.  Have lunch, coffee, or even a phone call.  You never know what gold nuggets might come out of an informal conversation without an urgent agenda. It’s okay to reach out when you need something too– just remember to stay in touch after you land the new gig!