10 Tips for Career Fair Recruiter Success

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    The stores are getting prepared by filling their shelves with back-to-school items and advertising their doorbusters prices including pencils and crayons for $.25. While one could argue it is too early to begin the “back-to-school” preparation, I am one who likes good planning. And while the summer becomes a season most of us long for during the cold snowy winter months, the “back to school” season signifies that my favorite time of year is approaching, fall.

    Fall is full of great things including the beautiful scenery brought by the changing leaves and the joys of trick or tricking with the kids while they are still young enough to find magic in a big bag of “free” candy. For those of us in HR and Recruiting, fall brings the season of college career fairs. And just like the stores preparing for their “back to school” revenue, recruiters are preparing to find the best and the brightest.

    So are the best and brightest preparing for us? Are they getting ready to find their start in a great career? I am sure that many of them are doing just that; these will be thrilled to meet at their local career fair recruiter. However, my guess is that there will still be hundreds of them that can check at least some of the things on the following list.

    Ten Ways to Not Get Called by a Recruiter You Met at Your School’s Career Fair

    1. Dress in the outfit you wore to your best friend’s luau and pool party last week. Or any other inappropriate one for the job you want. How you dress should be a non-issue. Don’t be remembered by your outfit; be remembered for the great questions you asked or your solid communication skills.
    2. Have no idea what companies will be represented. If your idea of preparation is showing up sometime before the thing ends and just wandering around the aisles, you might get overshadowed by the more prepared. Find out who is attending the fair in advance.
    3. Find out who is attending the job fair and not do any research on the companies. You need to research the companies you want to target before you arrive. Find out what companies may have positions in your field or which ones seem to be a good cultural match for you (values, mission, hours, environment, dress code). Not doing research will leave you unarmed for a good impression.
    4. Just wing it once you get there. After you do the research, prepare the questions you want to ask the recruiter. Know which companies you want to target, find out where they are going to be located during the fair, and plan your route.
    5. Wait until after graduation to attend a job fair. Waiting until you have the credentials is going to put you behind your better-prepared peers. Attend fairs beginning in your freshman or at least your sophomore year. This is a great way to see what companies are out there. Spend some time chatting with recruiters from companies you may want to get into in the future. Ask about internship opportunities and other programs for college grads. If you find an interest, write down their name and follow up with them at the next fair. (or sooner, see below)
    6. Go to the fair without any idea of what you want to do. Know your goals going in. Be prepared to let the representatives know the type of work in which you have an interest. Know some of your goals in the next few years. If you are early in your educational journey, know your goals for this fair. If it is just to meet recruiters and learn what companies are there for when you graduate, let the recruiter know that. Whatever it is, know it and be able to communicate it.
    7. Don’t follow up with any companies after you leave. If they are interested, they will call you. Always follow-up.
    8. Fail to ask how to follow up. Recruiters are busy. Find out how they prefer you to follow up and listen to them. If you are too pushy, you won’t get called back. And when you follow up, know their name and where you met them. If you are leaving a message, be specific about what you spoke about. Recruiters talk to hundreds of candidates. Help them remember you. (and like I said before, not by your outfit.)
    9. Ask the recruiter if you really have to complete an online application. If the recruiter says you have to do it. Do it. No further explanation. And when you complete the application, complete it. All of it. And don’t put “see resume” on the application in place of educational credentials or work experience. Actually, don’t put it down for anything.
    10. Get angry with the processes or the long lines at the booths and complain about the giveaways. This is another way in which you do not want to be remembered.

    What can you add?

    For more resources, See the Human Resources library.