As a senior on the UC Varsity Sales Team, I was selected (along with 6 others) to attend the National Collegiate Sales Competition as an alternate. Many top companies across the country sponsor the event and organize a 3-day career fair. It was described to me as the NFL draft for America’s top business students and my experience was no less than that. How did UC stack up against the competition?
All 6 of us had 4 or more interviews over the weekend and we all eventually received offers from one of our top companies. One team member had 8 interviews and received an on-the-spot job offer. Numerous recruiters expressed to our coaches that UC had one of the most impressive teams in the competition. And I agree with them… because UC’s programs, faculty, and students are impressive. We were coached through how to win this Career Fair Super Bowl, and here is how we did it:
1. Perfect and print resumes
Ask your mentors/professors/parents/peers for feedback on your resume, then take a few minutes to make some final improvements. Print 10 or so copies to take with you to the career fair (using high-quality paper for your resume is an easy way to differentiate you from the rest).
2. Practice your introduction/elevator speech
We role-played our elevator speeches and ironed out the kinks until we felt comfortable and confident. It is important to sound natural when introducing yourself while at the same time briefly highlighting your achievements.
3. Research the attending companies
We looked at every company’s website and Wikipedia page then wrote a 2-3 sentence summary for each (with more than one person you can work as a team to accomplish your research more quickly). We knew the names of some of the recruiters that were going to be there, so we connected with them ahead of time on LinkedIn and did a little bit of research on each of them as well (make sure you have a professional and up-to-date LinkedIn profile first).
4. Develop a strategy
After researching the companies, we each created lists of our own top 5-10 companies and bottom 2-3 companies. Spend some extra time researching and taking notes on your list of top companies (come up with quality questions to ask and relevant experiences that appeal to the position/company/industry).
***Uniform: Business Professional***
1. Go early
We wanted to make a good impression by going to the career fair right when it started and set the bar high for the rest of the day (Amy Weisensel, Senior Recruiter for Xerox Company, thinks later in the day is a more memorable time to attend so don’t worry if you cannot make it in the beginning).
2. Go to your bottom companies first
We shook off the rust and nervousness by first talking to a couple companies we were not very interested in. This is a low pressure, but real life situation to practice your introduction. It doesn’t matter if you blow it and by time you get to the companies you care about you will have it nailed.
3. Regroup with your partners
Before regrouping we took time to visit each other’s top companies that were not necessarily on our own top companies list. When we regrouped we were able to better strategize because we shared ideas and were informed of questions that could be potentially asked of us at specific tables.
4. Go after your top companies
After a few practice rounds with bottom companies and sharing insights with teammates we had the confidence to impress our top companies. This is it, review your notes and put your game face on. You will be prepared and you will do great.
Throughout the day, anytime I saw a free recruiter from a company I liked, I thought of a reason to stop by and talk to them again. NetSuite Recruiter Laura Goldberg agrees and says, “The most memorable people I have met at career fairs have come back multiple times. Come by and talk to one person then maybe stop by later to talk to another. Swing by in the end to say thanks again – even just a wave would do! The more times I see you, the more likely I am to remember you!”
Following up with the recruiters you meet is so critical and often ignored. NetSuite’s Laura Goldberg thinks, “It might be more important than following up on an interview! I use follow up at a career fair as a gauge of interest. If I really like someone and they don’t follow up I assume they aren’t interested in the role.” A simple email is an easy way to separate you from the onslaught of other students they met during the career fair. It also makes it very convenient for them to click reply and set up an interview with you.
My final suggestion is for you join the UC Sales Team and other worthwhile organizations (like the SLC). You will learn so much valuable information, improve important skills, develop professionally, and have experiences that separate you from the pack. Then when it comes time to perform well at a career fair you will be an impressive UC student that can compete with the best in the world. Every one of you reading this can score a touchdown at a career fair, you just have to have the right game plan and execute. If you follow the steps outlined in this post you will get several interviews at the next career fair you attend. This free advice comes with my money back guarantee.