Career Day is fast approaching, and whether the position in question is a full-time job or a summer internship, all job-seekers want to stand out among the thousands of students a company recruiter will meet.
Last week, the Career Center led a series of presentations for students offering tips on how to be successful in a job search. Jean Manning-Clark, Director of the Career Center, gave a presentation on how to stand out at Career Day in 20 seconds or less.
To begin, Manning-Clark covered the basics, what to wear and what to bring. “You should know this, and you’d be surprised that most people don’t,” she said. “The better you dress, the more serious people are going to take you.” Remember to dress conservatively, and business casual is a minimum level of formality. “We had a lot of comments last year about the female skirt length—way too short!” Manning-Clark said, “An appropriate length is no more than three inches above the knee.” Suits are a good idea for both men and women. Looking well-groomed is also a must for both genders. Job-seekers should be sure to bring plenty of copies of their resume and keep them organized in a portfolio or a nice folder. Not only does this help with organization, it also helps to have something to hold when you are speaking to recruiters.
The presentation continued by noting that students should prepare appropriately for Career Day, especially by researching companies. Manning-Clark suggests starting with 15 companies. ‘Think outside the box. Sometimes you can’t tell what the company does by their name alone,” she said. It is very important for job-seekers to be prepared and to know a little bit about the companies they want to talk to. Recruiters’ number one complaint is that students do not research the company. “I hear about it ten times more than parking on campus,” said Manning-Clark, “and they hate parking on campus.” Do not walk up to a recruiter and ask, “So what does your company do?” Simply reading through the company description at the back of the Career Day guide will suffice for speaking to a company without advance research. “I’ll tell you, 98% of the recruiters have no idea what it says in here… it comes from their marketing department,” Manning-Clark said in reference to the Career Day program. After researching the companies, job-seekers should apply online using DiggerNet, as well as the company website. Do this prior to Career Day because some companies cannot take resumes at their booth. However, resumes can still be used as a talking point.
Lastly, when it is time to actually talk to recruiters, job-seekers should begin with a firm handshake and a 30-second commercial about how their skills will make them the best candidate for the position. Job-seekers should start with the company that is lowest on their priority list so they can get some practice before speaking with the companies they really want to work for. After Career Day “one of the best things you can do…is send a thank-you note,” said Manning-Clark. Having a strong follow-up is just as important as strong preparation and presentation.
Be sure to check out the Career Center for more information and resources on how to succeed at Career Day and in job searches at large.