Job Hunting Season: Open for Business

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With the spring academic semester underway, students across the nation are starting the nerve-racking process of looking for jobs and internships.  One indicator that job hunting season is here can be traced to the number of “Can you help me my resume?” emails we seem to get each week.  We are always happy to help our students, and as each year goes by, it seems the students are getting more and more eager to make the best impression possible when they interact with recruiters.

Recruiters visit our campus for a variety of reasons that traditionally include attending career fairs, delivering company presentations, and in many cases, conducting in-person interviews with qualified student candidates.  

In hopes of bridging the gap between academia and industry, we frequently highlight the benefits for students attending a career fair, including: gaining exposure to many companies, developing relationships with potential employers, and learn about companies or sectors they may not have considered when thinking about future employment. 

From a recruiter standpoint, there are two main reasons for attending a career fair: First, finding quality employees who fit your company’s culture, and second, to convince high quality candidates they should apply for jobs within your organization.  Unfortunately, just like our students, recruiters just showing up at the event is not enough.  To truly be the employer of choice for students, recruiters need to make sure they standout in the minds of fair attendees (students, and quite often, faculty). Here are some tips for recruiters as they attend collegiate career fairs this spring:

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  1. Bring enough people – Something we have noticed over the years is that many companies choose to bring only one or two company representatives to the fair. These are the same companies that end up having lines, which becomes discouraging to students who are coming in between classes and want to talk to as many companies as possible. Some might perceive companies with a line as the “popular” choices, but be aware you will not be able to speak to each individual who wanted to talk with you.
  2. Bring the right people – It may seem obvious, but be sure to bring people who enjoy interacting and represent your company well. You want to give those at the career fair an accurate picture of the type of people who work at your organization.  By doing this, you give the student a realistic preview of the culture and go a long way to mitigating voluntary turnover right after joining your organization. 
  3. Stand up and approach – Many times we see recruiters sitting behind their table, checking their smart device and waiting for potential applicants to approach, and interrupt, them. Get up, walk around the table and be present. Say hello to the students as they walk by, try to engage and you will see a higher number of interactions and better quality applicants.
  4. Make your booth an extension of your organization – You are trying to capitalize on the benefits of attending a career fair, so make your booth a good representation of your organization. If your organization is a fun, laid back, and engaging place to work, bring some props that will indicate that to potential applicants as they walk by. If your work uses a lot of technology, bring a display that shows what you do – it’d be a bonus if you make it interactive so potential applicants could participate.
  5. Do not cancel – If you are scheduled to attend a career fair, there are people who are counting on you to be there. From the hosts to the potential applicants, you will create a poor image for your company by canceling. The hosts of the career fair may decide not to invite you back, and the potential applicants will have a poor first impression of your company and may no longer consider a position.

Career fairs can be an excellent source of applicants, particularly if you are looking for upcoming graduates or have internships to offer. However, as with any business activity, you need to put the effort in to do it right in order to get the most out of your investment. 

Drs B & T

1st photo credit: Mays Business School cc
2nd photo credit: Penn State cc