So, you’re going on an employer “trek” or an employer is coming to campus for a career fair or event.
What can you do to stand out from the crowd; to be someone the employer will take note of, engage with, and even personally recommend you once you apply for jobs with their company?
Consider these tips:
- You only get one chance to make a first impression. Dress for the job you want even if you have no idea what that job may be. When the employer first sees you – look like someone who already works in their organization. That means dress business formal for large organizations or business employers; and for almost all other employers as well. Even if the senior recruiter is dressed in business casual, you already stand out as being respectful and going the extra distance by dressing in business formal. They will take notice of you as bringing your “A” game. That’s exactly the impression you want to give.
- Prepare for meeting the employer. This is key. Show that you are a hard worker by having already researched the company or potential job, the department you’re meeting with, or the employer’s Linkedin profile. READ THE ANNUAL REPORT of each company you visit with prior to the visit. Know the CEO, the stock price (for business employers) and study the website carefully to find the mission statement, departments, revenues, products, recent news events, etc.
- Questions are the key! Students who have no questions for employers lose a huge opportunity to showcase themselves. Employers expect questions and will not be impressed if you haven’t prepared strong questions for them. There are many ways to search online for smart questions to ask an employer, based on their business. Do the work, and be prepared with strong questions. This is the largest differentiator.
- Know your elevator pitch and know your resume. Practice over and over the 2-3 lines you will speak when asked why you want to work for this organization.
- Your agenda needs to be their agenda. That means put yourself in the employer’s shoes when they are presenting. Think about what they are recruiting for, and how you can be sure to ask questions and make statements that show you are thinking about their recruiting needs, their open jobs, and how your skills match up with the needs they have. Don’t discuss anything related to your personal agenda: religion/politics/questions about how you can move up in their firm/questions about pay. Keep all the initial focus on making sure your only concerns are helping them solve their challenges when they hire you.
- Linkedin etiquette. Linkedin can be used to research the person you’re meeting with (if you know ahead of time). Don’t connect with anyone prior to having met them, and them offering to connect with you. Rather, study their professional profile so you can know how long they have been at the firm, where they attended college, and a bit more about them to use in conversation with them. You can tell them you saw their Linkedin profile and ask questions about their background. Wait to connect until invited to do so.
- Thank the employer after meeting with them. They have provided their valuable time to you to educate you on their company. Be sure to send them a thank you email (or ask whoever organized the trek how you can thank them).