February 14, 2013

Speed Dating – Getting the Most Out of a Career Fair

Approximately 80 companies will be attending a Job Fair at Career Day 2013 on March 1st in the University Union Ballroom (10 am to 3 pm) at CSUS.

Experience really matters in today’s competitive world! Contacts also matter now and when you get that pink slip- they come when you least expect it and you need to have connections for the inevitable curve balls that life sends your way.

Start with a quick strategy. A little bit of effort in advance of the event can make a big difference for your overall success in connecting with the right company.

Think of it as speed dating...
  1. Make sure you look good! Slobs don’t get jobs or dates!!!
  2. Make sure your resume is perfect and that you have at least 25 to 40 copies to distribute!
  3. Get there early if you can.
  4. Take a moment to web research companies that interest you before the event!!!
  5. Write out an introduction for yourself and practice it!
  6. Speak slowly and deliberately

    Example: Smile big and say: Hi, my name is ____________. I am majoring in_____________ or (for experienced candidates) my background is in_____________. I researched your company on-line and I am really interested in the __________ ( name that fascinating stuff) your company does. Then hand them your resume. Be prepared to answer questions about content on your resume!

This year Career Day will be much more productive than in the past few years. Companies are hiring 2.5 times as many people as they did last year (2900+ vs 1400+). So it is critical that you plan to attend and network with all of the companies that hire people in your major.

There really is no time to waste. You need experience they need talented people! You will want to have your resume in the hands of potential employers so you are the one that gets hired. This is your ticket to a job. Do not miss out!

If you think you are not in the market for an immediate job use this as an opportunity to gather information about the various companies that hire individuals with your major or field of interest and to establish contacts for future networking in companies that interest you.

How to approach a career fair- before, during and after:
  1. Scan the list of job fair attendees and select the companies that interest you and check out their web pages.
  2. Rank order the companies according to your interest.
  3. Tailor your resume for specific companies. Change the objective and order of content as necessary.
  4. Approach companies that interest you the most first.
  5. SMILE! Get information- ASK QUESTIONS!
  8. Send a thank you letter/email and attach another copy of your resume!

The types of questions you should be asking:

Open ended questions rather than the typical "Are you hiring?" questions will allow you to gain the most useful information. Here are some examples:
  1. What types of career possibilities are there for CE (BME, CM, CPE, CS, ME, MET) in your company?
  2. What type of training programs do you have?
  3. What types of projects does your company work on?
  4. What kinds of projects might I expect to work on in my first years with your company? What kind of growth might I expect?
  5. What is a typical day like?
  6. What makes someone successful in your company?
  7. What do you like best about your field/company?
  8. What advice would you give a person seeking work in your industry?
  9. Can you give me the names of anyone else I should talk with given my interests? (You will have to identify your interests at this point).
  10. May I have your business card? (For future contact).