How To Make A. Job Fair. Work For You

How To Make A Job Fair Work For You Career Services Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas 78627 Making The Job Fair Work For You Develop a str...
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How To Make A Job Fair Work For You

Career Services Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas 78627

Making The Job Fair Work For You Develop a strategy ƒ

Read through the employer booklet. Take the list of participating employers and code the ones with whom you would like to speak, in order of importance (i.e., “A”, “B”, “C”, etc.)


Study the map outlining the location of your targeted employers.


Once you are at the job fair, take a couple of minutes to look around— scope out your targeted employers. If you can, walk over to the tables of employers that are speaking with other students and pick up any literature they may be distributing. If the employers are talking to a group of students, listen for important information about the position or company.

Waiting in line ƒ

Eavesdrop (in a polite manner) on the questions and employer responses ahead of you. Speak with the individuals you are in line with regarding what they may know about the company or position.


Develop some of your questions/conversations based on the knowledge you obtain and avoid questions to which you know the answers.

Cut your losses ƒ

That is, if one of your “A” employers has a long line of individuals waiting to speak with them, consider speaking to two of your “B” targets. Depending on your time schedule and how long the line(s) at your “A” target is/are, calculate your options.

What to say ƒ

Be professional. Show your personality, but don’t be too familiar.


Always be assertive, walk up to the person, offer a firm handshake, make direct eye contact, and show enthusiasm on your face & in your voice. These first 10 seconds are crucial!


Focus on your accomplishments.


Relate your background and experience to the responsibilities of the position that you are seeking.


Speak clearly; be articulate.


Introduce yourself (you can start by telling your major and your experience related to the available positions); conversation will pick up after that. Hopefully you are already prepared and know, at the very least, basic facts about the organization.


Making The Job Fair Work For You Two-Minute Profile ƒ

You’re telling the employer what you can do for them — relate your experiences to the employer’s needs. Be sure to name your accomplishments. The conversation is a 2-way street; as you sell/market yourself, you are also gathering information. (For really crowded job fairs, you might narrow it down to one minute or less.)

Some things you can talk about ƒ Related experiences from internships, summer jobs. ƒ Leadership skills. ƒ Special abilities — languages, computers. Sample questions ƒ

What are characteristics of your successful employees in this position?


What are the qualifications?


What are specific job responsibilities?

Be sure to answer an employer’s questions; if you don’t understand, ask the employer to clarify Closing

ƒ Don’t monopolize the employers’ time at the job fair. Your goal is to articulate your skills and related experiences in a concise and professional manner. It only takes a few minutes if you plan ahead. ƒ Get their business cards. Jot a note on back regarding uniqueness of conversation. ƒ If relocating, ask for a contact in that city. ƒ Always leave a resume. ƒ

Follow up with cover letter and additional resume stating that you met at the job fair. Copyright © 1998 Career Services, Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas 78627


Job Fair Leads and Follow-Ups Developed by: Career Services at Southwestern University and UT-Austin, College of Communication

Debriefing •

As soon as you get home, organize your thoughts and create your employer files. Make stacks of the literature you gathered for each employer and place a Job Fair Follow-Up sheet on the top of each stack. Attach business cards from the representatives you met to the follow-up sheets.

Use folders to create employer files, stapling your follow-up sheets to the inside covers and labeling each file. Rank your employer files from most to least favorite. Think of what you hope to achieve with your top 5 employers. You have already made contact with a representative at each organization. Now, you need to parlay those initial encounters into on-site interviews, then job offers.

Write down your initial impressions of each organization on your follow-up sheets. What did each representative tell you about hiring needs? How busy were their tables? Did they seem sincerely interested in your background? Skim the literature you collected. Take a look at the article, Read Between the Lines, for help on analyzing recruiting materials. Try to identify 2 or 3 attributes each organization seems to be looking for in a job candidate (i.e. team work, leadership, and initiative ability to manage multiple tasks). You will want to demonstrate these attributes in your follow-up letters.

Prompt Follow-Up Now that your thoughts are organized, draft your follow-up letters for those “favorite” employers and send the next day (or as soon after the job fair as possible). Even if you gave representatives copies of your resume, attach another copy with any additional information you might like to provide (i.e. list of references and letters of recommendation if you have them). It is vitally important that your follow-up be prompt. You may choose to fax your materials and follow them up with hard copies by mail. Always keep copies of any followup letters in your employer files. Your letters should achieve the following: • • • • •

each should be typed and personalized to the individual employer (this is not the time for form letters). each should demonstrate your writing ability. each should remind the representative where and how you met. each should explain that you have read through the materials and are confident you possess the qualifications they seek. each should conclude with a statement that you will follow-up within a week by phone.

If your employer file includes an application for employment , you should complete it with great care and attach it to your letter and resume. The application should be typed or printed neatly. Their screening process could rely heavily on completed applications. Follow all instructions. Never write, “See attached resume.” If an item does not apply, write “Not applicable”--never leave blanks.


Job Fair Leads and Follow-Ups Continued Contact Call your targeted employers one week after sending your follow-up information to be sure they received your materials. Ask if they would like you to provide additional information (i.e. writing samples, letters of recommendation, list of references, transcripts). If you are able to travel to their work site, ask if it might be possible to schedule a visit (perhaps during an academic break). If you cannot get through to your contact, do not hesitate to ask the administrative assistant about the status of your materials or the search, and make sure you get his or her name and position title (correct spelling of both). Make sure you note any conversations on your follow-up sheet.

Below are some additional questions you might ask when you place your call: • • • •

Does the employer have a hotline you could call on a regular basis to learn of job openings? Is there another person in the organization who will be examining your materials? Would it be possible to visit the organization for a brief tour or informational interview? Are there any alumni from your school working for the organization? In what capacities? You might ask to give them a call to get a better idea of the culture of the organization.

Over the weeks after the job fair, keep “working” and “reworking” your employer files. Although you never want to appear desperate, you do want to learn when each employer will be making final hiring decisions. If an employer says they will know by April 15, then wait until April 18 and give them a call. Keep the lines of communication as open as you can, and don’t lose your persistence unless it’s clear you will not be offered a position. In this case, it is appropriate to ask the employer where you fell short in the application or interview process. Simply keep working the other files, but don’t stop there. Visit Career Services office weekly to learn of new opportunities, including on-campus recruitment. You are shooting for the best fit possible - it’s a mutual selection process. Stick with it and don’t be discouraged. With each rejection you move closer to an eventual offer.

Copyright © 1998 Career Services, Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas 78627


Dressing For Interviews In job interviews, image is important, and the way that you dress contributes to your image. Little has been written about dressing for job interviews – and that is why this handout, adapted from Campus to Career in 48 Hours, is helpful. Creating a professional appearance is but one of many ways you prepare for the interview . . . and everything you do well makes a job offer more likely.



Minimal or no cologne

Minimal make-up and perfume

No food, gum or cigarettes

No food, gum or cigarettes

Clean, trimmed hair

Attractive, well-groomed hair style

Fresh shave

Minimal jewelry

Clean, pressed suit

Clean, pressed suit or tailored dress

Clean fingernails

Clean fingernails and no chipped nail polish

Matching socks

Conservative hosiery

Shined shoes

Polished pumps in good repair

Pressed shirt

Carry a purse and/or briefcase/portfolio

Conservative tie Empty pockets Carry a briefcase/portfolio

Material for this chart, with permission, from Campus to Career in 48 Hours, available from Profile Systems, 750 Hammond Drive, Building 9, Suite 308, Atlanta, GA, 30328 Copyright © 1998 Career Services, Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas 78627


Organizing Your

Job Search Keeping record of the employers you apply with is an important part of the job search process. Employer: Contact Person: Title: Address: Phone: E-mail: Web Address: Employer Information:

Application Deadline: Resume/Cover Letter Sent: Interview Date/Time/Place: Thank You Letter Sent: Date

Action Taken


Copyright © 1998 Career Services, Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas 78627


Read between the lines How to evaluate potential employers by critically reviewing their recruiting materials By Andrew Ceperley, Director Communication Career Services, The University of Texas at Austin When history major Christine Stover began her senior year at the University of Virginia, she approached her job search systematically, just as she did every other important project she faced. Stover first created a resume featuring her work experience and extracurricular activities, then concentrated on reviewing some of the best (but least used) sources of information on the needs of campus interviewers--their recruiting brochures. Her careful examination of these seemingly innocuous pamphlets and videotapes paid off with a job as an assistant buyer with the May Co. in Washington, D.C., where she helps manage a multimillion-dollar domestics department. “The recruitment advertising served as a tool for getting the job by enabling me to ask the right questions in interviews,” says Stover, who spent many hours in her school’s placement office studying company materials. Knowing how to read between the lines of corporate brochures, recruiting kits and sales materials to extract information you need to impress interviewers is a critical skill few students bother to learn. By neglecting to study this intelligence, you dismiss data that companies spend millions of collars each year to produce. In fact, the typical employer spent, $61,000 in 1991 on recruiting materials alone, reports the College Placement Council. In this era of belt-tightening and cost containment, companies wouldn’t spend the money if they didn’t highly value the materials they created...and so should you. “A candidate’s responses and questions in an interview set the stage with the employer as to how the student views the company,” says Jim Townsend, manager of university relations for Dow Chemicals USA in Midland, Mich. Entering an interview without prior knowledge of a company is lethal, and posing questions that were clearly answered in a brochure, videotape or evening presentation will surely eliminate you from consideration, he says. Separate facts from fluff At first, you may be impressed by brochures replete with glossy photos of young executives in busy offices, bordered by persuasive text describing the fulfillment that can be found by “joining the team.” The trick is learning to separate meaningful information from fluff. The same skill is needed when attending an on-campus reception. The hors d’oeuvres, slide shows, glad-handing and slickly packaged presentations exist to create a positive image and garner your good will. If you view these gatherings as a chance to meet key hiring managers and learn more about their needs, then everyone wins. To bypass the recruiting hype, start by realizing that you’ll never have enough time to read even a fraction of what companies make available, at least not in depth. What you need is a plan to transform this propaganda into vital career intelligence. You’d never tackle a research paper without a clear understanding of what you’re looking for. The same holds true here. Begin by developing an employer sheet for each company you’ve targeted. Start with a simple question: “What can I learn about the company from this material that will help me perform well in interviews?” Record thoughts on a legal pad when you pop in a video or open a corporate binder. Divide each sheet of paper into five evenly spaced section, and label them as follows: 1) Hard information 2) Technology 3) Stories 4) Lifestyle 5) Transition Under each heading, make notes that will come in handy as you prepare to face skeptical interviewers. Use a new sheet for each company you review.


Hard information Most recruiting literature provides capsule descriptions of jobs typically filled by recent graduates. In your first review of a brochure or video, assess these hard facts, paying no attention to the sections that cover such corporate platitudes as success, teamwork and potential. Look for truisms and list them on your tip sheet. Are there charts outlining an expected career path and a section explaining such benefits as medical insurance and vacation time? Can you glean any statistics to mention knowingly in interviews, such as the number of employees, new branches opening in the next year, profitability expectations and so on? Scan the annual report and 10K for signs of corporate expansion. You don’t need to be an accounting major to realize the advantage of a profit statement that shows consistent financial growth. Says Jim Townsend at Dow Chemical, “Look for essential data that cannot be communicated by the recruiter in an interview.” Another type of hard information is company jargon. Pick out key words that appear often and write them down. How are people addressed? What are sample job titles? What acronyms are used frequently? Your ability to speak this language will communicate an interest recruiters won’t miss. Gather technology clues If you’re looking for cutting-edge technology, but a company’s recruiting brochure seems mired in the 1980s, the job probably isn’t a good match, says Helen Amato, career-planning coordinator at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla. In this case, “I would know that I’d be limited because the organization has limited itself,” she says. Just as your resume has a section describing your technical expertise and training, a company’s materials should emphasize its commitment to innovation. Remember, since new graduates rarely stay with their first employers for more than a few years, you want to ensure that your training will give you a technological advantage in the marketplace. Write down what’s said in presentations about the firm’s approach to technology and training, and ask about systems and programs of interest. Consider, for example, a recruiting brochure from a Big Six accounting firm. It shows a young woman working on a computer with the caption, “For Sherry, technology only makes life assures superior client service.” The text continues, offering more detail on the type of work she handles on computer. Are specific systems and programs mentioned? What percentage of her time is spent at the keyboard? What technical support does she receive? These are questions to ask recruiters when they aren’t adequately explained. Listen to your predecessors The next section of your sheet addresses the question, “Who do you believe?” Recruitment literature often includes excerpts from recent grads who have worked for the firm only a year or two. Scan materials to see if these recent hires describe their work experiences in detail. Christine Stover says employees depicted will illustrate “the kind of person the company is looking for, [whether it be] a maverick, an IBM type, a risk taker or an organization man.” Are these the types of people you’d enjoy working with? Chances are, your experience will be similar to theirs if you work there. “Testimonials from recent graduates in recruitment literature is another way to discover the inside scoop about a company. They’re a sign that the organization cares about what its employees think,” says Laura Dominguez, a counselor in Stanford University’s career placement center in Palo Alto, Calif. “Even when the glitzy or most impressive testimonial is used, its mere inclusion is an indicator of an organization’s commitment to the individual worker.” To be sure, your research also should include discussions in person or by phone with current employees, including last year’s grads from your college now working there. That’s the only way to gather a true reading of working conditions and advancement opportunities.


Evaluate potential lifestyles Students should want to know more about an organization that what they’ll do during business hours, says Laura Denbow, a counselor in Georgetown University’s career center in Washington, D.C. They should uncover the social, cultural and political environments of both the organization and its surroundings, she advises. Clemson University psychology major Sue Cobb agrees that lifestyle issues are critical to consider. “Look for standards regarding working hours. Will these parameters allow a fit between your intended lifestyle and the expectations of the company?” asks Cobb, who accepted a position in Charlotte, N.C., with Procter & Gamble Co. after graduation. Ask about leisure time, she adds. If you’re active in extracurricular activities now, won’t you want to continue nurturing outside interests once you’re working? Will you have time for those pursuits in this job? Many companies demand that new hires work evening and weekend hours. Can you live with that? Examine the literature to find out whether the company sponsors charity events, interdepartmental sports teams or summer picnics. Is it a good community citizen, allowing its employees to help those less privileged? If you’re planning a family, does the firm offer day-care? And is information about the city included? Does it offer a lifestyle compatible with your needs? “Look at the big picture when evaluating potential organizations and their locations,” says Denbow. Figure the ease of your transition As you prepare to leave good friends and the familiar structure of college life behind, make sure the company you’re joining will do all it can to make you feel at home, advises Todd Silverman, who earned a history degree last year from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and is now an account manager for New York-based Revlon Inc. “No literature can really prepare you for what you’re going to do,” he admits. But Silverman adds that gathering as much information as you can about the first few months on the job can lower your anxiety level and help you prepare for the adjustment. If you’re thinking about relocating for a position, be sure to assess your prospective move carefully before agreeing, says placement counselor Bonnie Yellin at the University of Pittsburgh. “How compatible is the corporate philosophy to your own? Take a close look at the working environment, leadership styles, mentorship possibilities and use of skills,” she says. Once you move, a bad match is even more painful in a new city. Look for answers to other questions in company literature, such as: What’s said about the training program? Will it begin on your first day? How long will it last? What’s the mix of classroom time vs. onthe-job training? Does the company help you find housing? Does it offer a roommate referral service? By the time you’ve completed your tip sheet, you should have dozens of questions to ask interviewers. Although you shouldn’t ask them all, pose those questions that relate to the contributions you can make to the firm. Save the ones about perks and salary for later in the interview process. Your tip sheet also should help you organize the multitude of brochures into major subject headings so you can compare employers and industries. This system works just as well when watching a video, attending a presentation or making an on-site visit. Quality organizations want to make as good a match as you do. Many strive to offer the information you’ll need to make a sound choice. After all, it’s costly for companies to hire people who become miserable and quit within a year. Still, the burden rests on you to interpret recruitment advertising. Read between the lines to gather the information you’ll really need.

Article from National Business Employment Weekly, Fall 1992

Copyright © 1998 Career Services, Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas 78627


Three Ps for Succeeding at the Job Fair JOB FAIRS . . . many shudder at the words. Many have heard horror stories of long lines, companies attending but not hiring, confusion, crowds, and the inevitable sea of navy-blue suits. You might feel apprehensive now, but if you follow the three P’s below, you can have a successful job fair experience-one that lands you a more formal interview.

Preparation--the key to successful endeavors • •

• • •

Pre-register for the fair at Career Services. This may also qualify you for prescreening. Obtain a list of employers and plan your strategy for companies you would like to visit. Remember: the “bigger name” companies have the longest lines, so plan accordingly. Research the companies you plan to visit, and prepare several questions to ask each recruiter. A perfect resume is a must! Now is the time to utilize the Career Services resume writing workshops or videos. Good interviewing skills are critical in making the best first impression. Make use of the Career Services interviewing skills workshops or videos and guidebooks. Learn to sell yourself--and fast! You’ll have only a few minutes to introduce yourself, show you know what the company is about, and spark the recruiter’s interest in you for a future, more formal interview. Yes, this is hard, and it takes practice--use a mirror, tape recorder, or a friend.

Professionalism--a must at the job fair •

• • •

Now is not the time to “stand out and be noticed” with unusual clothing or resumes. Sure you will be remembered--but for the wrong reasons. Be polite at all times. The person you meet in the parking lot, elevator, hallway, or restroom may be a recruiter you will see later that day. Recruiters see candidates as future representatives of their organizations. Therefore, you must display confidence, enthusiasm, and the ability to think and speak on your feet--and under pressure. Get the recruiter’s business card, and discuss how and when you should follow up with the recruiter. Follow-up letters offer another opportunity to outline what you know about the company, your qualifications, and why you are a “good fit”.

Patience--a virtue taught by Moms everywhere •

• • • •

Remember: Lines will be long, so wear comfortable shoes. Respect other candidates’ privacy when approaching the recruiter’s table. Make notes after you’ve spoken with a recruiter. Do this while you’re in line for the next recruiter, or sit away from the crowd to jot down your notes. Take time to re-group and have your thoughts in order for the next recruiter. You probably won’t receive a job offer at the job fair--and if you do, ask for at least 48 hours to consider the offer. Most recruiters, however, are not authorized to hire on the spot. Statistics from job fairs indicate that 49 percent of candidates receive interviews from job fairs, and 65 percent of the those eventually receive offers. This process takes three to four months (or longer). Again, the larger the company, the longer this may take.

SO, PACKAGE YOUR PS AND MAKE THE JOB FAIR WORK FOR YOU! Copyright © 1998 Career Services, Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas 78627


Develop your 60 Second Commercial/Oral Resume The implicit question “Tell me about yourself...” exists in many situations besides the job interview. Developing a “sound-bite” of about one minute in length will enable you to be articulate and enthusiastic about yourself. Use the following outline to make rough notes under each category, then fine-tune and practice this information.

1. Background--education and/or how you began in the world of work

2. Skills, Strengths, and Accomplishments

3. Job Focus and future career plans


This short verbal presentation: •

is an advertisement designed to market your best skills and accomplishments.

highlights the strengths and advantages of your liberal arts education.

is tailored to each listener and situation.

demonstrates your enthusiasm, personal style, and judgment.

presents you with clarity and focus.

generates appropriate information and interaction.

markets you effectively in a variety of situations such as: Social Occasions, Job Fairs, Networking, Information Interviewing, Cold Calling.

You can also use this information when answering interview questions such as: Tell me about yourself? Why should I hire you? Why are you qualified for this job? Why do you want this job?



Describe skills and accomplishments

Recite lists of job titles, employers

Tailor your remarks to the situation

Memorize the statement

Be relaxed, positive, and enthusiastic

Act discouraged

Ask if your listener wants more details

Be vague, unfocused

Listen for feedback

Ramble on, regardless of interest

Focus on the most important points

Try to cram everything in at once

Be succinct - use a friendly one-on-one style

Ignore your listener’s body language

Copyright © 1998 Career Services, Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas 78627


How Did You Do? Does your commercial meet the standards applied to effective advertising? Has Uniqueness?

Has Value?

Good Timing? Easy To Remember?

Interesting, Colorful? Has an “Attention Getter”?

Content Is it clear, organized and purposeful? Does it have impact? Does it stimulate interest? Strengths:

Need to work on:

Style ⇒ How is your voice tone/rate? ⇒ Eye contact? ⇒ Gestures? ⇒ Enthusiasm? ⇒ Confidence?


Need to work on:

Interaction Did you ask questions? Did you listen well? How well did you customize your information? Strengths:

Need to work on: Copyright © 1998 Career Services, Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas 78627