How to get noticed at a career fair

Alyse Nelson
Assistant Features Editor

Whether you are an undecided freshman and finding a career is a distant concern, or you are a graduating senior and getting a job is a constant worry, the Career Services Center and upcoming career fair can help you.
However, the only students that are going to benefit from the career fair are those that are prepared.
For some, preparation is printing a résumé on expensive paper. For others, it is dressing professionally or practicing speaking.
For everyone, it should be all of the above.
Several representatives of employers that will be at the upcoming career fair on April 2 were asked what their company was looking for from students.
“Professionalism,” said Deidre Frith of Panhandle Converter Recycling. “This includes the way you introduce yourself, a firm handshake, neatness of your attire and having a professional résumé available.”
“I would say conservative dress – professional,” said Lauren Cole, director of career services located in Eldridge Hall. “If you have enough time then it’s always a good idea to bring your resume by career services.”
The Career Services office offers many tools and programs designed to help students of any classification stand out at career fairs and beyond as they bolster their résumés and apply for jobs.
“We do a little bit of everything,” Cole said, going into further detail. “We do mock interviews, if any student is nervous about approaching employers at the fair. We do career counseling for underclassmen that are unsure about picking a major or picking a career.”
This could prove helpful as speaking and first impressions are huge for the employers present at the fair.
When asked, Carla Tucholsky of Enterprise Holdings said that her company was looking for “a professionally dressed, excited, and poised individual that is prepared to speak in a clear and concise manner about their interests in our program as well as their personal attributes that make them an ideal candidate for our organization.”
Brittany DeLong, a December 2013 print journalism graduate from Goshen, can confirm this statement from a student’s perspective.
“I made sure to have a very positive attitude in case I did meet potential employers,” she said of the career fair that she attended last semester. “I was friendly, outgoing, and a little informal. This was an opportunity to talk and get a feel for what a real interview with a company would be like.”
Her approach was successful as she was called for an interview at the Troy Chick-fil-A for the position of marketing director while also receiving interest from other companies.
“I, regrettably, did not pursue the position but gained the experience in interviewing,” DeLong said. “I think the interview had everything to do with how I presented myself at the career fair.”
With a first impression being so crucial, having an experienced person helping you can make or break your personal experience at the career fair.
Career Services has several programs online and in the office geared toward helping students succeed.
Cole goes into detail about Trojan Recruiting Live, their most interactive program. Upon registering, students can submit their résumés online to be reviewed by a staff member. After it has been reviewed, the student can then set up an appointment to meet a staff member in person and see what can be improved.
Also on Trojan Recruiting Live, students can see which employers will be at the career fair, as well as make use of other tools and information.
Cole said that there are about 48 employers attending the fair from various career fields – Xerox, AMX Logistics, Andalusia Regional Hospital, state agencies, police departments and many more.
These employers are looking for students for various reasons. Some are seeking graduating seniors to start their careers, while others want interns or to just simply meet the students.
“Most employers want to get to know students early on, form a relationship and hire them after they graduate,” Cole said. “It’s a great networking opportunity. We encourage any students, even freshmen or sophomores, to come.”
“I’m looking for experience as to how to present to an employer,” said Elizabeth Chisholm, a sophomore human resources major from Panama City, Fla., when asked why she was attending the upcoming fair.
“I’m working to get my résumé prepared so that an employer will look at it,” she continued, sitting at the desk of Ciaresse Pollard, a graduate student working as an intern in Career Services.
Pollard emphasized the fact that even the smallest details are noticed, such as the paper your résumé is printed on. “Employers are taking so many different résumés. So when the feel is different, they’re like ‘oh,’” she said.
This pause of consideration could be the difference between blending in and standing out.
With even a type of paper holding significance, preparing to meet the employers can seem like a monumental task.
To help, there will be a senior boot camp the day before the career fair, on April 1 in Trojan Center Room 119 from 4 p.m. until 5 p.m. A recruiter from PLS Logistics, another company making an appearance at the fair, will be there to speak to students about what employers wish to see.
“Basically, it’s an opportunity for students to get advice as to what employers are looking for as well as advice on how to dress, what your résumé should look like, preparing for your elevator speech and how you should approach employers at the career fair,” Pollard said.
The career fair will be held the following day on Wednesday April 2 in Sartain Hall from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

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