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  • Career Fair: Myth vs. Reality, Myths 1 & 2

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    Myth 1: “The Career Fair is only for business students or seniors.”
    The Reality: The Career Fair is for everyone!  We aim to bring a variety of employers from all different industry areas that also recruit for a wide array of positions.  Our employers recruit for internships and full-time positions so students from all years can take advantage of the fair.  Do your homework, look at the list of participating employers, and don’t just stop at the name of the company or the industry they represent.  Check out the positions they’ll be recruiting for. Check out their Web sites to see what departments or opportunities may be available.  For example, one technology company is hiring for a marketing/communications position and one public policy research employer is looking for an editorial and marketing intern.  Go beyond the obvious and look.

    Myth 2: “The Career Fair is a waste of time because the employers won’t take my resume and they will just tell me to apply online.”
    The Reality: Since 2006, there are federal regulations that define what a job applicant is and how employers must manage applicant data. Some employers choose not to collect résumés at career fairs because of their interpretations of that law.

    Additionally, employers tell you to apply online because it ensures that you’re in their applicant tracking system and it streamlines their internal process. Would you want to go back to your company and spend hours entering applicant data for 100 students you just met? No. You would want that applicant to apply online so that the database could collect the necessary information without someone entering the data by hand. So remember to follow employer instructions and apply online if that’s what they prefer.

    Now, here are some things you can do to make the most of your time at the fair. And remember that the purpose of the fair is for you to meet with employers, make a positive impression, and get information that you can’t get from their Web sites.

    1. Ask the employer to give you feedback on your résumé. What could be added that might help you stand out? Or what should be changed or removed? What do they look for in a résumé? These are all good questions that could help you tailor your résumé specifically for that company.
    2. Learn more about the company’s strategic goals or vision. You may be able to gather this information from their Web site, so be sure to phrase this question in a way that highlights what you know and ask a question that digs a bit deeper. For example, “I noticed that you have a new initiative focusing on reaching international clients. How do you plan to achieve this goal? What role do you see the ____ department playing in helping to implement this strategy?”
    3. Learn more about the company culture, recruitment timelines, and interview process. This could help you feel more prepared as you apply to jobs and get ready for interviews.
    4. Most importantly, act on the recruiter’s instructions. Apply online if that’s what they ask you to do, and instead focus on making a positive first impression at the fair. Then, make sure to follow up right after the fair.  If you make a good impression, you’ve given yourself a competitive edge. The recruiter will remember your name when they see your application come through the system.

    So don’t be discouraged if an employer directs you to apply online. Instead, look for ways to make your conversation at the fair productive and to learn something new. That part is your responsibility, so ask productive questions!

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