UW–Madison students, at least thousands of them of connect with over 300 employers from various countries at the annual Career & Internship Fair, at the Kohl Center. This fair is arranged for students of all majors and any year. If there’s such an event that happens near you, here are tips on using networking to shining at the event and land yourself a great job in the future.
Navigating a career fair successfully is easy, with due preparation. Before the event, practice career conversations, or elevator pitches and research companies of interest and ensure the recruiter knows you did your research, after quickly introducing yourself, your major, your year in school and why the company interests you, mention something about the company that interested you. At the end, ask a question about the company that isn’t easily known, such as networking opportunities the company offers or the recruiter’s tips for a job there. Inform the employer about what you desire from this networking. Career fairs enable you to walk out with a connection that helps you get a job.
Tailor your resume and ensure many copies
There’s no good or bad resume, but all resumes can be improved. Bullet points about work experience must be specific and tailored for the job you prefer. Past experience, whether relevant or not, should include information specific for the job you want. Always start with an action verb, such as ‘communicated,’ ‘organized’ that expresses purpose and power and then add what you did, how and why you did it, and what the purpose was. Always carry several copies of your resumes.
Remain calm and confident, and dress comfortably
A common mistake students make is to network first with their favorite companies. Warm up by talking with a company recruiter of no interest for you. Later, when approaching a Microsoft or Google recruiter, you are more confident and create a better impression. The dress code is business casual dress, so wear clothes that are comfortable, yet professional. Women need not wear heels and jeans and leggings are out. Wear your name tag on the right side so that, when shaking the recruiter’s hand, they need not crane their neck to ascertain your name. If you are shy or anxious, career fairs can be chaotic. Conversing with a student, random recruiter, or others at the event, will make you more confident when approaching your dream recruiter.
Be pleasing and follow up with something memorable
The company you apply for jobs, will have many resumes, so it’s your job to stand out. Just being interviewed by a recruiter does help your resume stand out, but to ensure an edge, be memorable for the recruiter. Write some memorable lines about your interaction behind the recruiter’s business card when have finished networking, possibly a shared anecdote or a sports opinion; it could help later. When you follow up, which you must always do, make yourself known in your email so they recollect who they spoke to.
Need more help?
Career fair prep sessions are also being held, where students can practice elevator pitches and get their resumes reviewed. Advisors also have a student center at the Fair where attendees relax, talk with advisors, and access networking tips. Further, scheduled advising appointments, drop-in appointments are also available for follow-ups.