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career insider


Each spring, nature brings us blossoming wild flowers. Likewise, universities prepare their new student crop for harvesting. Four years ago, the student seeds were planted in the college greenhouse. Not all seeds took root. Some lasted only weeks or a semester or two. Some wilted quickly under pressure. Many took root and are now ready for the upcoming harvest. Career fairs are like the old-time “Farmer’s Market” and will be your first opportunity to sell yourself.

This harvest looks very positive for the new graduates. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) yearly survey revealed that over 60 percent of employers plan to hire more recent college grads than last year. The NACE survey revealed extra good news in that 70 percent of responding employers plan to increase the base salary when extending a job offer.

Career fairs are basically organized networking events. Even if you do not land an interview that day, if done right, you developed leads and contacts for future opportunities. Every person you meet is important. In order to maximize the value of a career fair follow these preparation guidelines.

Contact your career placement center to verify dates of upcoming career days. Clear your calendar of any conflicting dates. Set up an appointment with your counselor, who can give you tips about the best companies for you and seek out which ones are most likely to hire someone with your background, major, GPA, etc.

Once you have determined your target companies, reduce the total and focus on just a handful. Trying to do too much can spread you thin, making you seem in a hurry to meet everyone or just window shopping. Be patient and wait in line for your companies. Use the Internet to dig deep in the company’s annual report, sales, new business and forecasts.

Do not dress business casual. Your first impression is most critical to the recruiter. A suit and tie or business dress or blouse must be worn. Spend your money on a new set of clothes if necessary. You may feel overdressed, but you’re not and you will stand out among other students.

If you cannot answer these two questions, forget getting a job offer from any company.

1) Why do you want to work for us?
2) Why should we hire you?

Do your homework. Research, research, research. The time you spend getting prepared will separate you from the others and lead to your success. Career fairs are wonderful events, particularly for those in the beginning stages of their career or those changing career fields. Attend as many as possible. Every contact you make is important because you will not know which contact will lead you to that next job. Stay focused and be positive about getting results.

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George Gurney has been a leader in the employment industry since 1976. He founded an executive search firm that conducts domestic and international assignments.  He has won numerous awards for recruiting excellence.  He has been a guest speaker at national conventions and seminars.