When I signed up to work at a career fair, I had no idea what my responsibilities would be. I showed up, and was told to stand by the main parking lot where recruiters would arrive. Quickly, I found I was in an advantageous spot. A number of recruiting teams who passed by me did not have a parking permit in their vehicle. One of the two (or three) recruiters would drop their stuff and walk back to the car to place the permit I gave them into their vehicle. This left me one-on-one with recruiters in the parking lot. After talking to a few recruiters, a conversation format became clear. Note: The exact order of the conversation may be different if you are looking at a specific position at a company that is hiring at the time of the career fair.
Know Your Purpose
The most important piece of your conversation is going to be your purpose. Why are you at the career fair? What employment opportunities are you looking for? When will you be available to start? If you can answer these questions, you are on the right path. Somehow, the answers to those questions should be incorporated into how you introduce yourself.
Explain Your Interest
Once you have tackled the first piece of your introduction, you need to be able to explain why you are interested in the opportunities you are. Give your background. Specific experiences in class or work can provide reasons for pursuing a certain position type. Here is a template example of how to word this kind of statement, “I have experience as a(n) ________ for ________. This has sparked my interest in positions such as ________.”
Ask About Opportunities
You have introduced yourself and your interests, now you get to ask the recruiter some questions. An important note needs to be made here: Do not ask, “Are you hiring people like ________ at the moment?” or, “Do you have openings for ________ right now?” These questions are worded in such a way that make the asker sound desperate and uniformed. First, if you are looking for an internship or a job to start soon, you should research to see if there are any openings.
Instead, try to word your questions about jobs in such a way that make you sound interested in conversation. If you are looking for a job right now (and you know the company is hiring) here is an example template to work with, “I am looking at the ________ position. I was wondering if I could ask you what important qualities you are looking for in hiring the ________ position?” This question states your purpose and starts a conversation that can build a relationship with the recruiter. Note: You may have to reorder your speech to have this be the end piece of your introduction and have the conversation flow.
If you are looking for future employment, questions are a bit easier and less pressured. You can ask things like, “I am looking at positions such as ________. Do you know if opportunities for new ________s will open up sometime in the near future?” or, “Do you know if a person could job shadow the ________ position to get a feel for what the job will be like in the future?” or, “What job activities does the ________ position have at your company?” Recruiters love students who come forward with engaging questions.
By following the general guidelines suggested above, you might find yourself having engrossing conversation with recruiters. I have walked out of the last two job fairs having talked to seven different employers for 5-10 minutes each. Knowing how to state my goals and ask the recruiters questions are the main reason for my success.
Of Possible Interest:
- Mastering the Career Fair (Pinterest board)
- The Benefits of Job Fairs
- Understanding Industry Career Fairs
- Job Fairs (category on the blog)