Now that the semester has settled in, it’s time to start searching for jobs. It’s the last thing you want to think about, but it’s stuck in the forefront of your mind, and nothing rushes that reality faster than Fall Career Days.
It’s like a smack in the face when you suddenly realize you have a lot of preparation to do—tweak your résumé, organize a speech, prepare your outfit—who has time for that? So before you pull your hair out, check out Valley‘s list of common mistakes made at career fairs – so you have one less thing to fret about.
1. Not doing enough research on companies
This should be an obvious one. Recruiters know when you don’t research their company, so it’s important to get your facts straight.
2. Not coming with enough resumes to hand out
If you want recruiters to consider you for a job, you should probably have a resume handy to give them. Always bring extra copies, you never know what might happen.
Bonus tip: Stand out by making your own business cards to hand out! FedEx Office Print & Ship Center, located at 101 N. Atherton Street, can help you create personalized cards to hand out to future employers.
3. Not having an elevator pitch prepared
Rest assured that you’re going to be asked the inevitable question, “Tell me about yourself.” Practice a 30-45 second spiel about who you are and what skills you have—so basically why you’re awesome.
4. Not dressing professionally
It should come as second nature to know that you can’t show up to the career fair in pajamas. Whatever you decide to wear, do not pick the miniskirt with the ketchup stain that you wore out last night.
5. Loading up on free stuff
As tempted as you may be to stuff your pockets with freebies—don’t. Make a point to actually talk to the recruiter first and then you can slip a free pen into your pocket.
6. Failing to keep the conversation going
The last thing you want is to exchange an awkward silence with a recruiter. Communication is a two-way street, so try asking some open-ended questions. When a potential employer asks, “Do you have any more questions for me?” The answer is always yes.
When looking for an internship, ask: “Where have previous interns gone on to work?”
When looking for a full-time job, ask: “What’s your favorite project that a current employee is working on?”
7. Forgetting to obtain contact information
Forgetting to grab a recruiter’s business card is like walking to class when it’s cancelled. You take the time to get ready for class only to realize the trip wasn’t worth your time. Rookie mistake.
8. Forgetting to apply online or follow up
If a recruiter asks you to apply online, do it. After you do that, send a thank-you note or email and reiterate why you’re a good fit for the job.
Ron Johnson, Senior Instructor of Management and Organization at the Smeal College of Business, shares his 20 years of experience in career coaching with Valley.
“You have to remember, why are companies spending money to be at the career fair? Why would they come if getting resumes was the only thing that was important? They come because they want face-to-face interaction,” says Johnson.
He says to approach recruiters with the right personal pitch. “It’s about leading with yourself versus leading with your resume. Do what they’re really trying to figure out. Go up, lead with yourself, have a conversation, start dropping in bits of your background, and let them beg you for your resume.”
Photo by Ana Elmasllari