Friday, March 5, 2010

Getting to the Hot Seat: Setting Yourself Apart at Career Fairs

We all know that career fairs serve as an opportunity for you to find that dream job you are looking for. On the other hand, you may find it hard to get in for an interview after introducing yourself to a number of employers. The aim in this blog is to introduce career-oriented individuals like yourself to four steps to increase your chance of getting signed up for an interview, and ultimately to get the offer letter in the mail.

Step 1: Bring Passion & Energy

Upon your entrance to a career fair, it is vital to set yourself apart by being aware of your body language and energy. Having a good attitude and being able to transfer this to an employer will certainly lend a hand. Often times, recruiters see job seekers walking around without a smile, shoulders shrugged as if they forgot what it means to have excitement. By having a positive mindset and a smile, your aptitude to impress the employers of your choosing enables you to be one step closer to the metaphorical “hot seat”. However, having the correct body language and energy is not all you need… first impressions also come from what you wear!

Step 2: Dress Professionally

As alarming as it may sound, I am in disbelief when job seekers show up in flip flops, a t-shirt, and jean shorts. You could have the greatest charisma in the world, be passionate, and give a firm hand shake and still be disqualified based on what you wear. It’s important to remember to dress business professional; yet in a way that helps you stand out. For example, men often wear a black suit, blue dress shirt, and a red tie. To set yourself apart, consider wearing a navy blue suit, off white dress shirt, and an orange tie. Trust me, in this situation you will stand out if you introduce yourself with passion, a smile, and the correct body language. Remember, you are probably looking for an exciting career where you can grow. Find a way to encompass professionalism while standing out in a subtle way. Once you have caught the recruiters’ attention through your professional look, there is still another step in getting closer to the hot seat.

Step 3: Know who you’re talking to!

When job seekers have accomplished the first two steps, many times they miss out on the third step. We all know that people love to talk about themselves, and often times recruiters get excited when you talk about the company they represent and live for. Before arriving to a career fair, make sure to research the companies that fit your career objective. From there, learn what these companies are looking for in candidates, their latest news in the media, their mission statement, and where they are headed in the future. If you can have this conversation with a recruiter and ask well-thought out questions, you are light years ahead of the competition. What this communicates to a recruiter is that you are prepared, a hard worker, and not looking to join just any organization. By communicating to a company why you are the right person for the position, you can be confident that you have done what few job seekers have thought of. There is undoubtedly one last step that will dramatically increase your likelihood of getting into the hot seat; yet many candidates will never do this.

Step 4: Follow Up

Following up with the recruiter is pivotal in getting on board with the company. Be sure to ask the recruiter for his or her business card, and after you have met with them at the career fair make sure to follow up. One way to follow up is to write a thank you letter expressing your sincere interest in the company and position. This goes to show that you are persistent and truly believe you have what it takes to be successful. Following up is your last opportunity to make an impression with an employer; be sure not to miss out on this essential piece of the puzzle.

To recap, remember that it’s all about preparation. As the old saying goes “If you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Be sure to bring passion & energy, dress business professional, have a solid understanding of the employer you are interested in, and make sure to follow up. If you can deliver these simple steps, I am confident that you will have a higher capability of landing your dream job.

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