Six Tips for Nailing It at Your Next Career Fair
Career fairs are an excellent opportunity to find the co-op, internship, or full-time position on which to build your future. But students have just a few minutes to make a solid impression. Here are six tips that future construction industry professionals can use to crush it at their next career fair:
Attend as many career fairs as you can – This sounds like obvious advice, right? But many students wait to visit a career fair until they are looking for co-op or internship positions. By then, it’s often too late.
The best time to attend is as soon as you can. Even if it’s your freshman year, it’s never too early to start networking. Get to know the companies and their recruiters. Ask questions about the types of co-ops and internships they offer and when to apply. That way, you’ll have everything lined up at the right time. As an added bonus, the recruiters will get to know you—and that will help your resume rise to the top when it comes time to apply for a position.
Do your research – Recruiters are looking for candidates who are passionate about construction—and who will be invested in their company. Before the career fair, take time to research prospective employers. Check out their websites, do a Google search for recent news stories, and review some of their high-profile projects.
The benefit is two-fold. First, it shows recruiters you put in the time to get to know them. And second, it ensures you use your time wisely by targeting companies that align with your interests. If your goal is to build high-profile commercial buildings in urban centers, then you would do well to steer clear of companies that specialize in, for example, industrial wastewater facilities.
Broaden your horizons – As you’re conducting your research, don’t limit yourself to big-name companies. Plan to talk to as many firms as possible that fit within your interests.
Often, small- and medium-sized firms have just as many, if not higher quality, opportunities as their larger competitors. They may also have faster career growth potential. The more connections you build, the greater the chances you have of landing the best position at the right company for you.
Develop a standard set of questions – Prepare a standard set of four or five questions to ask recruiters. This will help you make a strong impression by showing that you did your homework. Just as important, it will enable you to better compare prospects after the event.
There are no right questions to ask, but common topics include company culture and career growth. If you’re seeking a co-op or internship, be sure to also inquire about the structure of the company’s program. The construction field offers numerous rewarding career paths; a program that provides exposure to different aspects of the business will help you make a more informed choice about your future direction.
Remember, it’s a conversation—not a job interview – A career fair is a chance for recruiters and candidates to get to know each other. It is not an interview for a position. So be ready with an elevator pitch about you—a 30-second overview of who you are, what type of degree you’re working on, and why you’re at the career fair.
This is not the time to offer a lengthy overview of your resume. Think of your elevator pitch as a brief introduction that will give the recruiter a foundation on which to build a conversation. At this point, recruiters are more interested in gauging your interest in the field and their company. They want to know if you have that spark of passion for the work. If the recruiter is interested, he or she will spend time with your resume later.
Keep in touch – Recruiters talk to hundreds of students during career fair season. Make sure you stand out by sending a brief follow-up email within a day or two of the event. Reference key points from your conversation with the recruiter, and express why you’re interested in working for his or her company. Don’t forget to attach your resume and include the best way to reach you.
In addition, get to know LinkedIn. More than 90 percent of recruiters live on LinkedIn—so that’s where you need to be, too. It should be your top resource for building virtual connections after the career fair for two reasons. First, LinkedIn enables you to build out your professional profile in a way that a two-page resume simply cannot. And second, it will provide you with a jump on career-related opportunities.
For example, Miller-Valentine Group uses LinkedIn extensively to post information about upcoming co-ops and internships. It’s also where you can find the most up-to-date information about the company’s career-fair lineup. #FollowTheHardHat on our LinkedIn page to see where we will be next and to get a head start on future co-op and internship opportunities.