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Part 2: It’s Showtime

You’ve done everything you can to prepare for the Career Fair.  You know what employers are going to be there, and you have position-specific questions prepared.  You’ve got 40 resumes printed on the finest of resume paper, and you are ready to make it rain in the Classic Center.  Good for you!  You rocked Part 1.  In this edition of “The Best Way to Rock the Career Fair,” you’ll learn how to make the most of your time at each booth.

Game Plan

Once you have checked in, you’ll be given a map of the Career Fair floor.  Before you even walk into the big room of unnecessary intimidation, circle the booths you intend to visit on your map and make a game plan.  I would suggest starting with one of the opportunities that you don’t have as much interest in pursuing.  That way, you can get some practice and get rid of any first round jitters.  However, it is important to make the best use of your time.  Make sure you don’t save the “best for last.”  Often, companies leave when there is actually 30 minutes left in the Career Fair.  So, if you are thinking about leaving your most coveted company until last, think again.  Make sure you are feeling confident, but get to that table when the line is short and the company isn’t packing up to leave.

It is also important to be flexible.  As we all know too well, times are tough.  I expect this Career Fair to be relatively busy.  Try to stick to your game plan, but if you run into a table with a line greater than 3 people, move on.  You’re wasting valuable time, and you can always come back.

At the Booth

There is a pretty basic format that I have always kept in mind when approaching a booth.  It has been relatively successful for me, and I believe that it maximizes the time you have with a recruiter.  I’ve gone so far as to write this outline down in my notes, so I make sure not to forget anything.

1.  Introduce and Thank

Firm handshake, eye contact, non-creepy but confident smile.  Make sure you say your name and major loud and clear.  A technique that I used was to thank the individual for taking the time to come to recruit at UGA.  A genuine “Thanks” will set a more personal tone for the rest of the conversation which is better than the rehearsed spiel that the recruiter has already said 100 other times.

2.  Ask and Take Notes

Here is the best opportunity to set yourself apart from the other job-seekers.  Ask your well developed, researched, position specific question(s).  Your goal is to communicate to the recruiter that you did your research, you are genuinely interested in the position, and you are a step above everyone else.  Attentively listen, and take notes that are applicable to your question.  I always liked to ask the question, “What do you think are the top two most important attributes an individual can have in order to be successful in this position?”  This creates a perfect flow to the next step:

3.  Relevant Power Story

You’ve introduced yourself and made a good first impression.  You’ve gotten good, positional information from the recruiter.  Now, it’s your turn to talk and sell yourself.  You just asked a question that will require the recruiter to give you an answer about important attributes.  Now, take one of those attributes and explain how you excel in that area.  For example, “So you said that time management skills are essential in order to succeed as an Area Sales Manager.  That’s great because I have always taken great pride in the time management skills that I developed while in college.  One semester, I had a job, leadership position, and a girlfriend, which we all know is incredibly time consuming (pause for laughter) and was still able to receive Dean’s List.”

Woah!  You just showed the recruiter how you have demonstrated an important characteristic.  That recruiter just made a mental note that you are awesome.

4.  Seal the Deal

You’ve gone through all of the steps, and you can tell that this booth visit has gone well.  You don’t want to monopolize the recruiters time.  When the conversation comes to a natural end, it’s time to seal the deal.  Thank the recruiter again for his or her time.  “I’ve really enjoyed learning more about the opportunities at your company.”  Exchange a resume for a business card and any other pertinent materials that the recruiter might have.  Finally, ask about the next steps.  Will there be an information session?  How to I apply?  When will you be back for interviews?

Now, you leave the table with a confident stride.  Feeling good, looking good, knowing that every employer at the fair wants you because of how awesome you are.  All you have to do now is repeat the process 20 more times.  So refer back to your game plan, and keep on keepin’ on.

Remember, recruiters are people.  They are looking for genuine students that can effectively communicate.  So have confidence and know that the recruiter is there not to intimidate but to get to know you.

If you’d like some more info about career fair do’s and don’ts, check out this great article. Good luck!