A few of us here at Media Two Interactive had the privilege of participating in the Poole College of Management Career Fair at NCSU on Thursday February 3. We met several hundred students perusing internships and full-time positions.
Overall, I’d say everyone there did a tremendous job representing themselves in a professional manner. However, aside from having a polished appearance and resume, there is something else that should stand out – YOU. How do you make yourself stand out to a potential employer when they are talking with so many candidates? Here are a few of my to-dos and not-to-dos:
- Do your homework. Before attending a job fair, or any other interview situation. Find out which companies will be there ahead of time. Identify those that interest you and then visit their website. Write down points of interest on each company and questions you’d like to ask their representatives. This shows initiative. It is easier to remember someone that already knows a little something about you. During the fair, the majority of those who engaged with us started off with “What opportunities do you have available?” To which we responded, “What are you interested in?” To which we heard “What do you do?” … It was so much easier to talk with someone that came up to us, said they looked at our site and had an interest in (fill in the blank here) and would like to discuss opportunities.
- Avoid nonversations. Your conversation should be memorable. Be sure to share information about yourself that can’t be found on your resume. Bring up interests or projects you’ve worked on that tie into services the company you’re meeting with provides.
- Put strength in your shake. Limp handshakes are the worst. Don’t be afraid to put some power behind your handshake – just be careful not to break bones either.
- Organization is key. Carry a pad-folio with resumes and space to take notes and store information provided by the potential employers. You don’t want to pull out folded or bent resumes or shove a handout into your purse.
- Hold it together. Specifically at a job fair, if your resume is more than one page (one page is preferred), make sure all pages are attached together. Often hundreds of resumes are piled together and sometimes the pages get separated.
- Dress the part. Most students we saw came in suits, which was refreshing. However, I did notice a few gentlemen that must have been wearing very new suits. Be sure to remove the thread stitching (usually white or tan) that holds together the vent on the back of your jackets.
- Smile. Upon your approach, you should already be sporting a sincere smile. Make eye contact and try to smile as you talk. You’ll come across as friendly and confident. When you don’t make eye contact, smile or shake hands during the greeting and departure, you may become memorable for the wrong reasons.
- Skip the team approach. You wouldn’t bring your Mom to an interview so don’t bring your friend to the table at a job fair. You may be tempted to chit-chat about weekend plans or who said what in a fight. We are listening to everything and will be judging you on your side conversations so use caution. Additionally, great jobs are not currently abundant so why introduce us to your competition?
- Follow-up. In an email to a company of interest, remind them who you are. If you followed the steps above this will be easier. Remind them you were the one who asked the question about – fill in your question here – and make additional comments about the response you were given. Make it easy for the employer to picture you in the position – explain how you can’t wait to put your skills/experience to work helping the employer elevate a certain area of need.
Basically be confident in who you are and what you can bring to an employer. We’ll like you all the more for it.
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