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Preparation & Persistence Equal Job Fair Success

EACE Blog contribution by Vicki Salemi, Speaker, Author & Former Corporate HR/Recruiting Professional

It’s that time of year again! If your campus is hosting a job fair with multiple corporate employers, here are some tips for your students to make the most of the event from the recruiter’s perspective.

Focus on the connection. When I used to work in recruiting and represent my employer at a job fair, my colleagues and I used to not exactly look forward to it. Honestly, it meant we would be out of the office and miss work to catch up on later. It meant we would meet countless candidates but resume after resume, handshake after handshake, hour after hour and antibacterial bottle after bottle, they all seemed the same.

The candidates who stood out? They were students who took time to initiate intelligent conversations about the company, about the future, about their future. They were able to articulate their goals in a personable way and their persistence via follow up emails eventually landed follow up conversations. They made a simple connection, even if it was going off topic briefly talking about the weather or sports, they weren’t afraid to go “off the script.”

Stand out. In a sea full of navy and black suits, a splash of color was refreshing to see. So was a candid candidate who broke the ice by stating he was nervous. Candidness is refreshing like the candidate who smiled and tried to enjoy the fair, scooping up a freebie every now and then.

Candidates who were themselves and seemed more at ease seemed to make better connections. It showed in their body language, the way they talked, their confidence. Turns out they were able to stand out by just being themselves.

Follow up. Chances are prior to the job fair students have been diligent in researching the companies and learning about their specific opportunities to be hired after graduation but the most viable connections made long after the job fair ended related to following up.

Students did excellent post-job fair homework. They researched companies even more based on asking inquisitive questions, they looked up recruiters and connected on LinkedIn, asked to stay in touch. The main issue with job fairs that I experienced when interviewing grad and Ph.D. candidates was availability.

We attended on-campus in the fall for positions to fill in the spring but we were most eager about filling other positions at that very moment. This bode particularly well for unemployed recent graduates who took advantage of that simple question: “When can you start working?”

For other candidates who were still gainfully students until May, they capitalized on long-term relationships. Yes, job fairs may sometimes generate quick hires but more often than not they become springboards for students to put a face to the company and vice versa and build upon it for months to come.


salemi-vickiVicki Salemi is a speaker, consultant and author of Big Career in the Big City. Vicki previously worked in HR and recruiting for 15-plus years at KPMG, Deloitte and McGraw-Hill. This New York City resident’s the host, creator and producer of Score That Job on Mediabistro TV; Vicki writes a column for Metro newspapers and blogs for Forbes, U.S. News & World Report and Mediabistro. Vicki also writes about recruiting and career topics for The New York Post, Cosmo and other outlets and appears on Fox Business and other shows to dish her insight. Vicki earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Lafayette College and her management certificate at Cornell. Connect on http://www.vickisalemi.com and twitter.com/vickisalemi.

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