In the previous post, we discussed some ways to articulate your skill set to employers. Today, we want to focus on practical strategies for making of the most of those brief contacts at the Job Fair (March 7 at OSUT Main Hall, 3-5pm) or with prospective employers.
Rule #1 : Come prepared
- Have your resume and make sure you’ve had it vetted by Career Services or someone you trust. Typos and sloppiness signal a lack of effort and attention to detail. Your resume will be read as a reflection on your work habits and ability to communicate effectively! Bring multiple copies for prospective employers.
- Dress the part. Wear proper professional attire or the closest thing you have to it. Borrow a suit or business casual dress for the event. Women do not wear too much make-up or high-heels unless you know how to walk in them. Men do wear a tie and jacket, comb your hair, and put on some dress shoes. For additional tips, see the Career Center Tips page, which includes a “Dress for Success” video.
- Know thyself. Be prepared to articulate your skills and desires. Who are you, and what are you seeking from life/a job/a career? What are your strengths, intellectually and socially, and what are your weaknesses? What is your plan for redressing weaknesses—gaps in knowledge or skill—that might impact you professionally? (workshops, internships, additional course work, other?)
- Know the Employer. Get a list of employers who will be at the Job Fair and do some research on them. What positions are they advertising, and what skills are required for those positions? Why might your skill set be better-suited to such a position than someone whose degree is more technically oriented? Show that you understand the employers’ needs.
Rule #2: Be a Savvy Interviewee
- Focus your efforts. Given the list of employers, and jobs advertised, which employers should you target? Don’t bother with employers or jobs you are unsuited to. As an American Studies major, you will never be able to convince an airline that your degree has prepared you to fly a plane. If, however, the airline is also looking for ticket agents, customer service reps, or management trainees, your “soft skills” certainly are suited to those sorts of jobs. That’s why it is important to DO YOUR RESEARCH.
- Prepare a mental script for how you will introduce yourself, your interests, and your skill set. Keep it brief and have an ice-breaker question about the job or employer prepared to ease the first contact: “I see you’re hiring for a sales position. Can you tell me a little about that?”
- Be Sociable. This means making strong eye contact, shaking hands, repeating the recruiters’ name in conversation, and showing interest and enthusiasm.
- Ask questions and listen carefully. Show that you have done your research on the job/employer, and are genuinely interested. Avoid questions about pay or benefits, and focus on those that involve the needs of the company and the duties of the position. Listen carefully and ask follow-ups as they occur to you.
- Ask if an internship is a possibility. If the employer seems uninterested or unconvinced, ask if they have an internship program you might apply to. It shows that you are goal-directed and willing to work to redress gaps in your training. NOTE: You can get AMST credit for such an internship; ask Dr. Takacs for details, or see this blog post.
For more guidance on Job Fair preparations, see the information provided by OSU’s Career Services Office. Here are a couple of handy dandy handouts from the site: Before the Fair | During and After the Fair
The next post in this series will discuss what to do if no job opportunity is forthcoming upon graduation. Where do you go from there?