Career Fairs and How to be a ‘Match’

BlessVaiBless Vaidian, Pace University Career Services and Founder, Career Transitions Guide
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/blessvaidian
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BlessCareers
Blog: http://careertransitionsguide.com

 

With on-campus recruitment and career fairs in full swing, Bless Vaidian offers advice and insight to share with students.

Career fairs showcase match making between employers and job seekers. Numerous screening interviews take place under one roof and in under a few hours. If a student is not a fit, he or she will not be selected by the recruiter for the next round. Only those that “match” proceed.

College campuses are an ideal place to find job and internship fairs. I have worked on and managed career fairs over the years. Those students that are serious about getting a job or internship need to follow this advice: 

Prep You cannot walk into a career fair and wing it if you are serious about finding employment. Just as research is key to interview success, it’s also crucial for the fair. Find out ahead of time what organizations will be attending. Then check out the websites of your target companies, view their job postings, read their latest articles/tweets, and find out if you know anyone in your extended circle that works there. Saying you will “take anything,” shows you are not prepared. And, you will wind up with nothing.

Pre-Screening Recruiters at job and internship fairs have two piles of resumes. Your goal is to make it to the pile that passes the recruiter’s filter. Fill out online profiles ahead of time so that when an employer asks you if you filled out their online application, you can say yes. Make sure the resume you bring to the fair is free of errors, has an easy-to-read format, and highlights exactly what you want it to highlight. Job descriptions should be quantified with metrics, accomplishments, and keywords that are relevant to the industry and posting.

Spotlight Is On The human resource representatives at career fairs are viewing you even before it’s your turn to talk to them. Anything inappropriate you say or do in that room or while waiting on line will be noticed. Be on your best behavior. You should be dressed in interview attire, wearing a smile, and engaging those around you while you wait for your turn. You have only a minute to shine in the spotlight, but remember the spotlight is always on.

Answer the Question: Why You? If you are looking for an internship or job, you should have a pitch. Your pitch answers the question: “Why an employer should hire you.” You can’t think of what to say to that inquiry on the day of the fair. You need to know what skills make you a good candidate. If you don’t know why an employer should hire you, then they won’t. Those that tailor their pitch to match the industry, position, and employer get selected.

More than a Resume What gets you a follow-up meeting after the career fair is more than a resume.  It’s the combination of a good resume and your package presentation: speech, expressions, handshake…etc. Anything that would make the recruiter think you cannot represent their organization, clients, or products will move you into the do-not-pursue pile of applicants. Your communication skills, positive attitude, and energy need to come across the minute you step foot in front of the hiring representative. That is just as important as your resume.

The great thing about career fairs is that those seeking employment can have face time with dozens of recruiters. Hiring professionals that have posts to fill can meet hundreds of applicants.  It’s a win:win situation for both groups. Be the match an employer is looking for by taking your next career fair seriously and taking my advice.

I love to get feedback from recruiters as to what matches were made. When I look through the room of job seekers, I know who is making the cut. Can you spot the students who will do well at the career fair? Share your thoughts in the comments!

A Career Counselor’s Story: Law and Order, a Documentary, Three States, Four Coffee Shops, Two Record Stores, and 10 Years Is All it Takes.

Ross WadeRoss Wade, assistant director, Duke University Career Center
Personal blog: http://mrrosswade.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn URL: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosswade
Twitter: @rrwade
Blogs from Ross Wade.

I’m a ham. I admit it. I always have been. Remember the kid in high school that sat in the back of the class, cracked jokes, and mimicked the teacher for laughs? That was me. From an early age I was told I was funny and clever and that I should be an actor. That became my identity, and most of my decisions regarding college and career were based on that identity. In college I had seven different majors, but most of my time I spent in the theater department. My sophomore year I auditioned, and got into, the B.F.A. acting program, and for about three years, I spent almost every day with the same 11 students (who are now dear friends). I loved it. My senior year, I got cold feet after hearing “What kind of ‘real job’ are you going to get with a B.F.A. in acting?” too many times to count. My solution? I changed my major, one final time, to communications, with a “media performance” concentration. Almost all of my theater classes transferred over, and I only had to take five communications classes my senior year to graduate with a B.S. in communications.

My first “real job” after graduation? Working at the downtown coffee shop…walking distance from the theatre department. I had no idea what to do with my life. One day a friend visited the coffee shop and asked me if I wanted to move to Chicago. I said, “Sure.”

A week later we were packed in her brother’s van heading to the Windy City. My first job in Chicago? Working at a coffee shop. When not slinging coffee or working at a record and video store (I needed two jobs to pay the rent) I was trying to act in student films. While I enjoyed Chicago as best I could, I was mostly lonely and anxious. Friends were hard to make, and I was in bit of an existential crisis trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. After a year in Chicago, a friend in New York City called and asked if I wanted to move to NYC to sublet his room for a year. I said, “Sure.”

In NYC, I was able to get an internship with a documentary filmmaker and her crew. We spent the summer of 2001 in a small Rhode Island town shooting a film about a wealthy, highly educated, family that learns their wealth came from the slave trade. The film documented the family’s journey from Rhode Island, to Cuba, to Ghana, traveling the route of the slaves their family members bought generations before. I became close to this family and the crew, I loved the tight-knit feeling of working on a small project for a big cause and becoming a part of a community. I liked documentary more than acting, it certainly felt more meaningful to me, but still, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend so much time on location (traveling and away from home) and spending hours and hours researching grants for funding.

I was in Tribeca, about 11 blocks north from the World Trade Center, when the city was attacked on 9/11. I, and thankfully my friends, was uninjured…just terrified, heartbroken, and confused. Most filming in the city was shut down, and in order to make ends meet, I started waiting tables at the World Wrestling Federation restaurant in Times Square (that experience could be its own blog post – ha!). Later I was able to do some freelance work as a production assistant with the show Law and Order, but really, after such a tough year, I wanted to be home with my friends and family. So, that’s what I did. I landed a job back home working in digital media as a production assistant (and then producer) for a small company. We worked very hard, and many long hours, and as a result became extremely close. One day, an intern I worked with told me I should consider being a college career counselor.

“Colleges have career counselors?” As an undergrad, my world was theater 24/7 and I had no idea there were student affairs professionals, like career counselors, that got paid to help students. Crazy! I did some research on careers in student affairs, decided to pursue career counseling, earned my graduate degree, and then landed my first career counseling gig for a school of communications. Finally, I found a job that satisfies my desire for building meaningful relationships, provides community, allows me to help others every day, AND I get to perform (and be a big ole ham!) doing workshops and presentations. It only took me three states, four coffee shops, three record stores, one documentary, a television show, and 10 years to get here!

So you are probably asking yourself by now, “Why is Ross telling this long story. What is the point?” Good questions. I shared my story to highlight a few points that may be helpful to you as you work with your students as they consider “What should I do with my life?”

Identity – it’s about you, not other’s perceptions of you.

Feedback is important, but I frequently tell students not let anyone tell them who they are or what they should do with their lives. Many students get feedback from friends and (especially) family on what to do career wise. Feedback from these folks, while well intentioned, can be based on issues about themselves and their own experiences…not necessarily about the student. I normally ask students to investigate common denominators from past experiences that can shed light on possible career options. For me, though, I love to perform—community and a sense of helping others—is most important in my career. I found evidence of this time and time again as I reflected on why I love theatre, film, and the arts. The art part is fun, but I most valued working hard, as part of a community, towards a common goal.

Just say “sure” and trust your gut – it’s leading you someplace good.

I find myself saying this to students a lot—“If you don’t know what to do, just do something, anything, and that will inform the next thing.” Every time I tell someone my career story, they say “Wow, you’ve landed the perfect job for yourself!” And as I look back, I agree with them. At the time it seemed that my career was chaotic and directionless. But if I had not made that drive to Chicago, then taken that room in New York, and then come back home, I never would be enjoying my job as a career adviser for media, arts, and entertainment students. I was building an incredible resume and didn’t even know it!

Share your story.

Your students need to hear your career story. Pursuing a career is daunting no matter what industry or major. Disclosing some of your accomplishments and failures (yes, I used the “F” word) normalizes fears and confusion, and provides insight students can use as they pursue their goals. When I tell my students I had seven majors, or took a risk and moved to a big city where I really didn’t know anyone, or had to work at a wrestling themed restaurant to pay the bills until I landed another film or TV gig, and was still able to mange to find a career I love it gives them hope (and ideas!). A couple of summers ago, at the career center where I work, the staff did audio recordings of stories reflecting that in which they believe. These personally told career stories are posted on our “staff” web page and available for students to listen to. Our students love this! I’ve had quite a few students make appointments with me specifically because of the story I share about my career journey.

What is your career story? Leave a comment and let me know – I’d love to read it (and I bet others would too)!

Four Lessons We Can Learn From Business Leaders

BlessVaiBless Vaidian, Pace University Career Services and Founder, Career Transitions Guide
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/blessvaidian
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BlessCareers
Blog: http://careertransitionsguide.com

1) The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks. – Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Founder

Mark started Facebook in his Harvard dorm room. Was it risky to venture out as an entrepreneur? Yes! It’s risky to start or try anything new. Whether you are in college or a professional with years of experience, our career choices are often masked with uncertainty. Industry leaders will tell you that it’s because they were not afraid of taking risks, that they are successful today.

2) You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you. – Walt Disney

A few months ago, Business Insider published an article with a list of 23 successful people who failed at first. “Learn from life’s lessons and move on” was the underlying theme in all their stories. Don’t let failure keep you down. Sometimes when we don’t get what we want, another door opens. A mistake young college students make is to think that successful people never hit a rough patch. In fact successful people hit many obstacles, but keep moving forward.

3) We’re living at a time when attention is the new currency…Those who insert themselves into as many channels as possible look set to capture the most value. Participate or fade into a lonely obscurity. – Pete Cashmore, CEO of Mashable

Those people that are well branded and popular on social media outlets, and those with a wide circle of connections get job offers. Have your circle built so that when the time comes, your job search will be much faster than those that live in “obscurity.” The clients and students I work with that have a wide list of connections, attend events, and have a well-loved personality find jobs much faster. I work with hundreds of recruiters every year. They attend events to target candidates for open positions and to keep resumes on file for when there is a vacancy. If you are not getting out of the house and if you are not networking online, be prepared for a longer job search.

4) Technology empowers people to do what they want to do. It lets people be creative. It lets people be productive. It lets people learn things they didn’t think they could learn before, and so in a sense it is all about potential. – Steve Ballmer, Former CEO of Microsoft

When reading a job description, the skills required are clear. A college degree does not guarantee employment. But having all the skills required in a recruiter’s job posting does make you more marketable. Apply to jobs only after you acquire the skills. This way you will not waste the recruiter’s time or get discouraged when you don’t hear back from human resources. You can learn almost anything using online resources or by partnering with the right technology tools.

Lessons Learned at #NACE14

ongDavid Ong, Director, Corporate Recruiting, Maximus, Inc.
Twitter: @dtong2565
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/dave-ong/0/604/513

It’s been two weeks since the 2014 NACE Conference, and I’ve finally recovered from the profound lack of sleep that I experienced in San Antonio. (For those of you that weren’t there, the non-stop networking combined with the excitement in the city from the Spurs NBA title win turned our hotel complex into a never-ending celebration chamber!)

With my batteries now re-charged, here are a few general observations from the conference:

1) Our profession is in a very dynamic phase—Is it just me, or was anyone else just in awe of how many critical issues and trends are hitting simultaneously. From First Destinations to OFCCP to Big Data to STEM Education……It’s clear that the game is changing big time! The conference was the perfect opportunity to exchange ideas with my peers, my customers, and our affiliate members.

2) Our future looks bright—If the conference first-time attendee session was any indication, we’re in great hands. The new attendees seemed so highly engaged, inquisitive, and truly excited about being NACE members and they wanted to know how to get more involved, which bodes well for all of our members. Every year this group gets bigger. Case in point: We typically split the newcomers into groups of about 15 people, and we assign past or present NACE board members to facilitate discussion. To our shock, we actually ran short on NACE board representatives! (Kudos to our terrific conference co-chairs Maura Quinn from Liberty Mutual and Fred Burke from Baruch College for stepping in to facilitate!)

3) We have some great leaders at NACE—How can anyone not be impressed by the performance of our fearless leader, Dan Black of EY? The guy attended almost every organized event, chatted with virtually everyone he met, enlightened (and entertained) us with his “Early Show” interviews of NACE award winners. He threw down the ultimate challenge to our members with a new member outreach proposal. He also did a great job with the passing of the torch to President Sam Ratcliffe of VMI, who did a wonderful job of welcoming first-time attendees and gave us an enlightening glimpse into the college recruiting future. Like many of you, I’m really psyched to see what Sam has in store for all of us now that he’s the president!

One last comment….There is real power in blogging—I’ve got to be honest….When the folks at NACE asked me to consider writing this blog, I was a little hesitant. Questions like “What am I going to write about?” “Will anybody read it?” and “If they read it, will they fall asleep?” all entered into my head. Thankfully, the NACE conference changed my view of blogging after I had several encounters with attendees who recognized me from the blog photo (Note to self: Pick up a gift for our company photographer.) and asked to take a selfie with them, which promptly got posted on social media outlets (Other note to self: Learn to take selfies from above not below.) I heard from other NACE bloggers that they had similar experiences to mine, so a huge thanks to those of you that took the time to let us know that you’re enjoying this latest communications outlet from NACE!

That’s it for now….Next NACE stop for me: the Summer of 2014 Board of Directors meeting in Boston.

You’ll find a list of NACE’s Board of Directors on NACEWeb. If you’re interested in becoming a member of the NACE Blog Team, contact Claudia Allen.

Introverts Guide to #NACE14

Chris Carlson

Christopher Carlson, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition, Booz Allen Hamilton
Twitter: @cciCarlson
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ccicrc

Taking a break from my social recruiting series to share some thoughts for my fellow introverts attending #NACE14.

On most tests, I am an “off-the-charts” introvert who takes after his father. There are people who write “don’t eat alone” and who encourage you to network, network, network. Not me. I don’t know about my fellow introverts, but I like a little quiet time to recharge the batteries before going back into a room of hundreds of people. I eat alone quite often, especially when I have been around a lot of people. It helps me relax and renew.

So, here are my introverted best practices for conference survival:

  1. Schedule quiet time throughout the dayGo to the NACE Conference Scheduler and pick out your absolute must-attend workshops and see if you can carve out some quality time for yourself in between those sessions.
  2. Be selective with your networking timeDon’t try to meet everyone, but in good introvert style, get to know a few individuals really well; connect with someone you want to get to know better.
  3. Don’t be afraid to find quiet corners at a receptionTry to entice someone to speak with you one-on-one rather than insert yourself in a circle of individuals talking. If you want, you can talk to me as I am usually quietly positioned in a corner.
  4. GO BIG at least once during the conferenceGrab a group of friends and get out on that dance floor and dance, I say, dance!
  5. Spend more time networking one-on-oneIt is easier to strike up a conversation with someone sitting next to you before/after a workshop than in a big networking session, so start there. Make a point to meet at least one new person and get to know him/her really well each day.
  6. Get outside and take a walkThe Riverwalk is an introvert’s dream come true, as there are many stretches with beautiful scenery and not a lot of people. I know from experience. It can be a very calming and relaxing spot.
  7. Above all else, spend time learning and connecting.  As introverts, we don’t have to meet everyone, just a few people who we will get to know very well.

Looking forward to seeing you all at #NACE14 in San Antonio! Look for me in a corner or at a table by myself and come say hello. Stay tuned for more insights into my journey into social recruiting as well as observations from the conference.

Don’t forget, I am presenting on Tuesday. The session is entitled “Everyone is a Recruiter” and will look at building social recruiting practices and engaging your employee base to help ensure success. (“Everyone Is a Recruiter” will be presented on Tuesday, June 10, at 3:30 p.m. See the #NACE14 Itinerary Builder for details.)

Attend Christopher Carlson’s session and take a selfie with him! A selfie with a session presenter is one of the 10 items to collect in the #NACE14 Scavenger Hunt!

 

Being in the Right Place at the Right Time

kevin grubb

NACE Ambassador Kevin Grubb
Assistant Director at Villanova University’s Career Center.
Twitter: @kevincgrubb
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kevingrubb
Blog: “social @ edu”.

You and I know it: the job search is a hustle. It’s applying, it’s writing, it’s getting LinkedIn, it’s tweeting, it’s interviews, it’s dressing to impress… it’s all of the above. Even more than that, it’s about people. The people you meet at the places you go. It’s “networking,” which can be a difficult concept for students to understand.

Networking isn’t linear. I’ve heard students say, “That’s not really applying to a job.” Sure, talking with someone who doesn’t necessarily have a position open or even the ability to hire doesn’t feel the same as hitting “apply” online. But, your relationships could be the differentiator in your job search success.

When I talk about networking, one of my favorite phrases to break down is, “I was just in the right place at the right time.” (See also: planned happenstance.)

Being in the right place in the right time isn't only about luck. (Image credit: flickr.com)

Being in the right place in the right time isn’t only about luck. (Image credit: flickr.com)

Some of the best career success stories I’ve heard from students are cut from this cloth: a story about a junior making a chance connection on a train ride home or the senior finding out her cousin could refer her for a job while at the Thanksgiving dinner table. At first blush, this phrase seems like someone just got lucky. Truthfully, luck has only a little bit to do with it. A lot about making it happen is up to you.

There is such a thing as being in the right place at the right time. But, the critical truth is that you have to put yourself in a bunch of right places and have the right attitude so that you’ll have the chance of experiencing a “right time.” The right place is not likely going to be your bedroom. It’s also not likely going to be the networking event you attend where you speak with no one.

So, when I talk about networking with students, I tell them: you could be the one to experience being in the right place at the right time. I follow up by showing them events on- and off-campus where they could meet with industry professionals (some good “right places”). I even tell them a story or two about taking advantage of chance meetings and how talking confidently about your goals beats talking about them sarcastically any time.

NACE blog readers, how do you explain networking to students? Are there any career advice phrases you like to break down? I’d love to hear about it in a comment.