Tips from a recruiter: How to stand out at your next career fair

Posted by Mike Deissig

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April 15, 2014 @ 10:00 AM

Make a splash at your next career fair with advice from TheLadders’ recruiter.

TheLadders_Job_FairIt’s easy to feel like a small fish in a big pond when you’re at a career fair. With hundreds of candidates all vying for the attention of the same recruiters and employers, you feel like you don’t stand out. 

And I’m going to let you in on a secret: You probably don’t. As a recruiter, I can easily talk to more than one hundred different job seekers at a career event. At the end of the day, the names, faces, and occupations all blur together. The most important thing you can do at a career fair is take steps to distinguish yourself from the crowd.

After years of recruiting quality hires from these events, I’m giving you the top ways to distinguish yourself from the other candidates. They’re surprisingly simple.

  1. Be confident and assertive. Please don’t mosey up to my booth and wait for me to say something to you. Walk up to me and introduce yourself with a firm handshake. This will guarantee you about two minutes of my time, so make sure you have your elevator pitch ready to go. Tell me a little about yourself, what you do, and what you’re looking for in your next employer or position.
  2. Smile! I know you’re feeling the heat, but put your game face on, and make it clear that you’re happy to be talking to me and excited about your prospects. You probably like to work with people who are happy, and so do I. Grin, make a connection with me, and show interest in what my company does.
  3. Bring copies of your resume. You’re at a career fair. This should be a no-brainer. And don’t tell me you’ve gone digital – I will just think you’ve gone lazy and didn’t bother to find some nice paper to print your credentials on. If I have your resume, I can scan over your information (please keep the document short) and engage with you about your experience. If you’re right for the job, you’re also making it easier for me to talk you up to your potential boss.
  4. Send a thank-you note. It might sound crazy or old-fashioned, but a quick thank-you note goes a long way. Do this if you spent time at my booth and were genuinely excited about the company. Say it was great meeting me, and that you were the one with the red hair and goofy shirt, or the wacky tie. Remind me of who you were, say thanks, attach your resume, and ask to continue our conversation.

I found three amazing candidates at the last career fair I attended for TheLadders. This goes to show that career fairs are a great way to find your next job, as long as you make yourself stand out. 

If you want to put your new tricks into action and learn what it’s like to work at TheLadders, here are the upcoming career events I’ll be attending. Register, stop by, and be sure to smile!

Uncubed – Thursday, April 17

NY TechDay – Thursday, April 24

EmpireJS Conference – Monday & Tuesday, May 5-6

Click on the following link for tips on what comes after the career fair: The interview.

Want to work with folks like Mike at TheLadders? Check out Life @TheLadders or browse our latest job listings.

Deissig_Mike

Mike Deissig is the Manager of Talent Acquisition at TheLadders, and has 10 years of technology recruiting within NYC and the tech startup space. More than anything, he believes people should love what they do, and that a job should be a second home. When he’s not recruiting or helping people advance their careers, he loves watching football, being with friends, and playing FIFA. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeDeissig to chat or ask questions.

Topics: Networking, Working with Recruiters, New to the Workforce