Friday, October 1, 2010

Straight from the Mouths of Employers

The Fall Career Fair has come and gone and overall it was a great success – employers were impressed with the quality of students at Marquette and students had the opportunity to meet with over 140 organizations! It was great to see so many students in attendance checking out leads for internships, co-ops, and full-time positions AND capitalizing on the opportunity to network with professionals in their field or who can connect you to someone in your field. So much of the job search depends on who you know and if you attended the fair, just think of how many new people you have added to your own network!

As with everything in life, there are lessons to learn and ways to improve next time. Try as we might – as your friendly Career Services Center – we can’t get every student to take all of our advice, so I thought I would take a moment to share feedback straight from company representatives who attended our fair. Perhaps you will find this useful as you prepare for the Health Professions Career Fair on October 26, 2010 from 4:30 - 7:30 p.m. and the WorkForce Career Fair on February 17, 2011 from 4:00 - 8:00 p.m. (both fairs will take place in the AMU Ballrooms).


Be Knowledgeable About the Company – mentioned by 43% of employers

At the very least you should visit the website of every employer you plan to talk to at the fair to learn about the company (What does the company do? What is their mission? What is important to the company and what feel do you get from reading their website?). After that, you should be able to come up with deeper questions to ask so the recruiter will know you have done your research and really care about learning more about the organization.

Dress Like You Want a Career as a Professional – mentioned by 22% of employers

We have said this until we are blue in the face… some students follow the advice and, frankly, look like they cared about finding a job and making a great first impression. Other students choose not to wear a suit… here are some additional comments employers had for those students:

“Wear suits – students need to remember they are making a first impression.”

“Professional dress makes a great first impression.”

“Dress appropriately as you would for an interview – not business casual.”

“Leggings are not appropriate attire for a career fair.”

…you get the point. Pick a suit that fits your personality and the field you are hoping to enter—there are lots of choices out there and not all of them are boring, stuffy, or uncomfortable.

Enthusiasm Makes a Great First Impression – mentioned by 16% of employers

This piece of advice will take some practice for most people. I absolutely know how hard it is to be enthusiastic when you are nervous. I actually hate networking because I get really nervous and have to work hard to figure out what to say… and I still mess up sometimes. HOWEVER, I know that if I am well-prepared and then make sure to take a deep breath and relax, always smile and give good eye contact, and act confident that things will usually go well. Oh, and a practiced handshake will do wonders as well! (Grasp hand firmly, pump once, and let go)

“Prepare an Elevator Speech – mentioned by 7% of employers

Nothing is more awkward at a career fair than when a student walks up to an employer with nothing to say… and “um, Hi… I’m Courtney… What does your company do?” is NOT a good introduction. Before a career fair you need to practice (out loud) your elevator speech. You should include what you are doing now (name, year in school, major), what you’ve done in the past (related or transferable skills to the position/company), and what you are hoping for in the future (an internship, full-time job, information about a contact in a department within the company); then end your introduction with a question (this question could be related to something your noticed on their website, learning more about the hiring process, or something the recruiter personally likes about the company).

“Bring a Resume – mentioned by 4% of employers

Some companies accept resumes at career fairs and some are unable to do so. That said, wouldn’t you rather look prepared if a recruiter asks you for one? Bring along at least as many as the number of companies you hope to visit and maybe a couple more just in case.

Heed the advice of recruiters and start working on these things now so you are prepared for the next fair you decide to attend!

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