If you’ve been to the GVSU Career Fair in past years then you know it can be intimidating, overwhelming, confusing, and competitive. However, it can also be a great jumping off point for learning what kind of job you may like to do and what companies are out there. In Workshop Six, Troy Farley, Director of the Career Services Offices, joined us for Career Gear and gave us advice on what to expect, how to navigate, and what will help you stand out at the Career Fair this year.
Know Before You Go:
- Everybody that’s working behind those tables are most likely doing that for a living- they know you’re nervous, and most of them will start the conversation to get the ball rolling.
- Be yourself. Recruiters will watch how you act, and if they see you shaking a lot of hands, smiling, and generally having fun they’ll notice that and you’ll be more memorable.
- They want to make a good impression with you just as much as you want to make a good impression with them. They’re representing their company and they want to come back with smart hires.
- A majority of the representatives will be wearing ribbons that symbolize which university they attended. If you see someone wearing a blue GVSU Alumni Ribbon use it as a conversation starter and go from there!
- Pick four companies you’d like to work for and then do your research. Dig deeper than their website. Maybe bring up recent news articles about the company, mentioning things outside of their website will definitely impress them.
During The Fair:
- Go to a table for a company that you have no interest in working for to get your nervous energy out of the way. You’ll be able to practice your introduction for the real companies you want to work for, while also potentially learning something about a company you’ve never considered.
- Recruiters will notice if you’re “Trick or Treating”. Yes the freebies can be cool, but if you hop from table to table collecting the free stuff and not even shaking hands or asking about the company people will take notice.
Never walk up to the tables and give the recruiters or representatives your resume. If you hand a representative who is not a recruiter your resume they will stop looking at you and start looking at the piece of paper you just handed them. You’re losing eye contact and losing the opportunity for them to remember you.
Give them your resume if they ask for it. If you like how the conversation is going and they don’t ask for it, then you can give it to them.
- After any particularly awesome conversation, find a table and write down some notes about who they are and what you talked about. Write a little thank you note saying how much you enjoyed talking with them about this or that, then wait until before you leave and hand it to them. You now have provided them with a follow up to your conversation and another reason to take a second look at your resume.
But, you are most likely going to end up working for a company you’ve never even heard of- and you’re going to love it! So don’t sweat it if you didn’t make a killer first impression, you might have another chance further on down the line.
- Take any business cards you nabbed and connect on LinkedIn– if you took notes and didn’t get a chance to hand-write them a thank you note, LinkedIn is the perfect back up plan.
- There are a lot of career options out there, and it’s okay if you don’t know which one is right for you! Get in contact with some companies that you enjoyed talking with and set up an informational interview or job shadow. You can also use your connections with Grand Valley to help you get your foot in the door!
- If you need some career inspiration check out this video stylizing a quotation from Ira Glass, the host and producer of the radio and television show This American Life.
Moving on to Plate Strategy, Bob Burton and Derek DeVries from Lambert, Edwards & Associates joined HireEd for Workshop Six!
Derek has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations, is a social media specialist and currently serves on the board of the West Michigan PRSA. Bob started his career out in journalism and then moved into investor relations where he started his own firm, and now plans to eventually retire in West Michigan!
Current: Digital Strategist at LE&A
Former: Marketing Associate at 834 Design & Marketing
LinkedIn Link: www.linkedin.com/in/derekdevries/en
Key Piece of Advice: “It’s easy to just do whatever comes your way during an internship but the exceptional people are the ones looking for things to do, seeking out responsibility, and maximizing the time they have with the company. Those are the folks that will have more options available to them.”