Congratulations! You have your resume in order, and the Career Fair is around the corner, you’re practically home free. But there is one more hurdle to overcome before you can land that killer internship or career that you are there to snag! You have to actually talk to the recruiter! Many students have some sort of stigma about approaching a recruiter— they are like a god, wielding the power over your future with a heavy hand based on first impressions and snap judgments. Is there a way to guarantee they will like you? No. But you can give yourself the best chance of impressing them possible.
Let’s divide this endeavor into two main categories: preparation and execution.
Part I— Preparation:
How do you prepare for talking to a recruiter at a career fair? Well the first step is going to be having all of your materials in order. Resume printed out, edited, crafted to fit their company as best as it can. Of course you already got help with this at career services, so you have that point crossed off your list. Next, you need to work on your presentation— if you show up in a sweatshirt and your favorite pair of worn jeans then nobody will take you seriously. Wear a shirt and tie or nice skirt/pants and jacket, which are reliable business casual outfits. If you want more information on what might be acceptable professional dress, there are plenty of blog posts on that if you need to read more. Or if you want to know what not to wear.
You need something to carry your papers in! Don’t use a backpack, use a portfolio: a nice notebook that you can neatly tuck your resume into, along with any papers the recruiter hands you. Finally, if your resume is on two pages, or if you are coming in with a cover letter too: don’t staple them together, instead use a paper clip.
The other part of preparation isn’t based on appearances, it’s what you have to know before you can go in, so go find out which companies are sending recruiters to OSU, go to their websites, and do some research on them. You should be able to talk with a recruiter about the company— about their goals, their projects, and their values. This is how you’re going to really impress them, because even if you’re wrapped up nicely, they won’t like somebody who can’t put in the work.
Part 2— Execution:
Now it is officially time to go to the Career Fair and get your name out there. I’ve gotten a lot of questions from students about how it is best to approach a recruiter. They feel awkward walking up and just asking about jobs and recruiting; it’s time for your research to come into play. One approach is to open up with a question or comment about a recent project their company has gone into:
“Hello, my name is Richard; I was really excited to see NVIDIA’s recent expansion into grid GPU for manufacturing and construction corporations.”
Another is to ask them about what their job is at the company, and how that job function might interact with the job you are looking to fill for them. Regardless of which approach you take, there is one key part to remember: recruiters and representatives are not some alien species that we need to observe from afar. Go up to them and express just as much interest in them as you hope they will express in you, and you will leave a good impression.
Good luck and see you there!
posted by Richard Thomas, Career Assistant