It’s the Boy Scouts motto. It’s what your teachers, your mom and dad have been telling you all your life. But, are you really prepared? Prepared for anything?? Are you prepared to take on the career search, pass the screenings, ace the interview and land the job?
In the job search and life in general, preparedness can put a person ahead of the game. Here are a few tips on you can prepare for whatever may come your way in your search for employment:
Do your homework. Research the companies that will be recruiting beforehand. Most career fair participants are listed well in advance on the college career services websites and community forums such as local news sources (if it’s a general career fair). Once you know who’s going to be there, check out their website, and learn a little about the company (I would suggest the following checklist: history, brands, basic entry-level positions or internships, and one “fun fact” about them to start the conversation.) Go to the career fair with a plan and plan to leave with a job, not free koosh balls, Frisbees, and other swag.
Know them better than they know themselves. This goes along with doing the research, but it’s a good idea to know more about the job description than the recruiter does. Often times, the recruiter at the career fair booth is more of a corporate recruiter who has only a few specific positions that they hire for. If they don’t work with that particular area, say merchandise finance, they may push you off to their website because they don’t know anything about that position. You’ll still need to apply online in most cases, but be persistent and let the recruiter know that you’ve done your homework and indicate your interest. You may just impress them enough to take your resume back to the right person with a good recommendation. If not, you can still cover your bases and apply online.
Sidebar: Freshmen/Sophomores – it’s not too early to be thinking about (and talking about) internships with employers of interest. Just because you don’t “qualify” for the position at the moment, doesn’t mean that you can’t get started on the research and time it takes to make an educated decision on your target employer list. Don’t make these decisions hastily or in the dark. Remember, the internship is a 10-12 week interview. At the end, you and your manager will know whether or not you’re a fit for each other. Internships are a topic for an entire post a little later down the road. Stay tuned.
Wow them. You’ve heard people reference an “elevator pitch”. Do you have a 30-60 second pitch that encapsulates your goals, ambitions, and strengths? There’s no cookie-cutter approach to this. You have to be different!
Follow up, follow up, FOLLOW UP! Perhaps one of the most important steps in anything is follow up. You can’t just wait for them to call you (unless they explicitly tell you “don’t call us, we’ll call you”). Get the recruiter’s business card, ask when is the best time to follow up is if you haven’t heard from them, and ask if they prefer phone calls or email. If you get a business card, it’s a good idea to send a handwritten note to them, thanking them for their time and insight provided at the career fair. Don’t forget to mention exactly what career fair (date, school) and reference what you discussed. Keep it short, write it by hand (legibly), and send within 48 hours of the initial conversation.
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