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September is student advice month! Check back often for advice on how to stand out at events, prepare for interviews, and check out companies via social media to land your perfect job offer.
Students, You Asked, We Answered:
How to Stand Out at a Campus Recruitment Event
Do you have what it takes to stand out as a rockstar candidate?
It’s back to school time! This means one thing – company recruiting efforts are in full swing starting from week 1! For companies, this is a great way to bring their employment brand to life. For students, this is the perfect opportunity for YOU to bring your personal brand to life.
3 Tips to Stand out to Prospective Employers:
1. Do Your Research & Don’t be Afraid to Show It!
It’s all about knowing your audience. Find out everything you can about the company before the event. Look at the company from different sources.
Check out: their webpage, the recruiting page/jobs page, and watch for a specific campus recruiting page. You also want to see if there are any reviews on the company – although if checking a website like glassdoor.com for example; take the reviews with a grain of salt and keep an open mind.
Take this to the next level by trying to find out who’s going to be there to represent the company. Sometimes a simple call to the Career Centre can give you this info. It’s a nice touch when potential candidates have an idea who they’re talking to. Look at their LinkedIn profile and learn a little bit about their history – how long they have been at the company, their role, etc.
The trick is showing your research in a natural way – check out my example of how it worked below!
Proof This Works:
I had a candidate once who saw that I checked in at a career fairon Foursquare, which is linked to my Twitter account. I had a call to action on my check-in to meet our recruiters and that we were looking forward to seeing everyone. He not only attended the career fair but when introducing himself, mentioned the tweet, his interest in social media and how that tied to the position he was applying for. And yes, he was a successful candidate who not only landed an interview but got a job offer!
Your Research Goals:
At the end of your research, you should be able to answer why you’re interested in the company, why you want to work there, and what you would like to do. The additional information that you’ll learn from the event should be the icing on the cake to really make your CV/cover letter sing.
2. Look and Act the Part.
Now that you have an idea of what the company culture is like, position yourself like you would naturally fit in.
By knowing the culture, you can adjust the way you present yourself and your questions (and you should have questions prepared!) closer to the company vision.
Gunning for a spot at a dotcom company? Best to be in business casual and leave the tie at home. Know the lingo and current trends within the industry to speak about.
Making Small Talk That Matters:
I often get asked what do at the actual event, how to act, and what to talk about:
Leave the generic weather and hockey talk behind – BORING!
Use this as your time to shine! People often feel awkward by highlighting themselves saying “I did this…” … instead they often say “We did this….” I’m not saying to take all the credit but make sure you’re demonstrating what YOU did and why it’s relevant to the situation.
Another easy open is “I’m interested in XXX company because of XYZ” and highlight something current in the news about the company. By doing your research and knowing facts about the company/brand, you can leverage this and drive the conversation with it. Mention a recent award or accolade they received or maybe ask about a recent release of a product.
Stay away from controversial topics! This is not the time to mention the Miley Cyrus #twerkgate…unless maybe it’s a PR company or a record label? Even then, it’s a stretch!
You want to brand yourself at this event as the perfect fit for the role or the company.
Been seen, be heard, and be remembered! Position yourself as if you’re already working there. Balance this though and don’t seem overly cocky!
Have a Leave Behind:
Be professional and have a resume or business card. Don’t bring your resume folded and wrinkled. Instead, have it printed on good paper and in a nice file folder. Alternately, bringing business cards are a nice touch. I see this more often these days especially from Business students.
As a recruiter, I use your leave-behind to keep track of the candidates I meet at the event and pass on the feedback to my team. As a potential candidate, this shows your professionalism right off the gate. There’s no need to get 1000 fancy cards printed, a nice basic one with your contact info and link to LinkedIn or maybe to an about.me page will do. Using your home computer or a website (often for under $20) does just fine.
3. Call me? Maybe.
Better than a phone call, follow up on LinkedIn after the event.
Don’t send a generic LinkedIn invite (read our tips for personalizing the invite/followup here) but use this time to thank the company contact for their time at the event. Add a conversation nugget of what you spoke about at the event to jog their memory. We see hundreds of students on campus each year, be unique in a good way.
Don’t be TOO Grand in Your Follow-up:
This brings me to the follow up using grand and over the top ways such as sending gifts etc – there are mixed opinions on this and you can see it here and here. In my opinion these are tales of what NOT to do.
I’ve had past candidates follow up with grandeur gestures and other attention grabbing tactics. One offered to take me out on a dinner date after the interview (#awkward), but that’s another blog post.
For me, this doesn’t float my boat! A simple follow up on LinkedIn and perhaps a simple thank you on Twitter with a link to your Linkedin Page is a better fit. Anything over that seems a bit irrelevant and stalker-ish.
By being prepared BEFORE the event, you gain time to strategize your fit and build your confidence.
Be confident, stick to the facts and work the room. Show your personality; know why your values align with the company and why you’re the perfect fit. And most of all, don’t talk about the weather or hockey unless you’re meeting a meteorologist or someone from the NHL.
Related to my post, check out Helen Rol’s tips to prepare for an interview here.
Now it’s your turn – Tell us about your most memorable experience on campus at a recruitment event!
The good & the bad! September is all about YOU students so tweet us at @talentformula or comment here for advice in your job hunt!