In a previous article, I talked about having that game plan so that you know how to tackle the Internship/Career Fairs. Let’s talk about the day of, and issues I have seen with how candidates approach employers.
When you are waiting in line to speak with a potential employer, listen to the information that is said to other candidates. They might be passing some information along that you did not even think about asking. This effective listening tactic will allow you to implement what you hear and understand more about the company before having your exchange.
Your appearance, handshake, elevator pitch, and whether or not you made eye contact are the first things that recruiters notice. Whenever someone gives me a weak and limp handshake, I get this weird feeling and think “what the heck was that? ” It does not matter what setting you are in; you should never give anyone a weak handshake. Well, unless you notice they just did something gross with their hands, then you just avoid it altogether. Remember, that a first impression is a lasting impression.
Always take these events as an opportunity to expand your network. Just because you do not make a connection with one of the companies you speak with, does not mean that somebody else there will not be able to put you on the right path. Talk to the other candidates and companies outside of your industry and make sure you grab business cards. Networking has started a lot of careers. Leaving a memorable impression on everyone will help them remember you if something comes up in the future. There are countless times that I have had random conversations with people and ended up referring them to somebody else that had a need for their services.
Using the Group Approach
You are at an internship recruiting event, and you want to stand out from the crowd, why would you want to approach a recruiter with a large group of friends? When I talk to candidates, I am taking mental notes or writing a quick note on their resume. Then, I put a symbol on the resume and place it in a pile. If I do not speak to just you, and all of you hand me resumes at the same time, then I am not making any notes, and your impression is even less. Recruiters are talking to candidates all day, and some conversations give them a quick idea of whether or not you will be a good fit. The resumes of the candidates that I get a good feeling from during these conversations are the ones that get looked at first.
Not knowing what you want
At every event, me or one of my colleagues always has an interview with a candidate that plays out exactly like this:
Candidate: I just wanted to see what you guys had available.
Me: What job interests you?
Candidate: I don’t know. What you got?
Me: *Here we go again. Mentally throws resume in the trash*
“What you got?” Really? Is that how you expect to get an internship or start your career? If I am looking for a candidate to develop software, and you are an elementary school teacher, then there is no point in me breaking down what we have available.
Seek a position you are unqualified for
We also get candidates that try to force their way into a position. What I mean by that is that they have not even had a class that pertains to the work, but they want to change their whole career path with an internship. Most places are not providing on the job training, and telling me you will do anything when you are a sales person trying to switch to software development will not work. If you think of a cup Java instead of Java code, then you probably will not be a good fit.
Karl T. S. Jackson is a Project Manager and frequently speaks with students from middle school through college about personal development and how personal choices affect their future. He enjoys writing about business, young professionals, personal growth, and personal experiences. You can also connect with him on G+.