Thursday, March 15, 2012

Getting Ready for the Just in Time Career Fair: Tips for Success

This week's post is written by Kai K. Harvey, sophomore economics major at CU-Boulder
The Just in Time Career Fair is coming up on Tuesday April 3rd from 9am-3pm in the UMC Ballroom. If you’re like me, you are probably pretty thankful there will be one last chance to find a great summer internship or job! Maybe you have already been applying for summer work, but you were banking on one particular opportunity that didn’t work out and now you’ve got nothing lined up for summer. Maybe you have just been busy and haven’t had time to apply for summer jobs.
At any rate, if you have nothing lined up, don’t worry- you’re not alone! The good news is that the Just in Time career fair will be chock-full of employers looking to fill their summer internships and full-time positions; in fact, every single employer must be hiring in order to participate in the fair! That means that we all have one good last shot at getting a job or internship! Since this is the last career fair this school year, it’s important to make sure we are fully prepared for the career fair! Make sure to follow these tips so you don’t get stuck washing dishes this summer.
1.   Polish your resume and get ready for the fair
At this point, many of you have probably already applied for jobs. The response you’ve gotten from employers after turning in your resume is a great way to judge its strength. If you haven’t been getting many call-backs, it may be time to revise your resume. Try including things you haven’t included before (like volunteer work or past experience you decided to omit), or simply re-formatting it so important accomplishments are more emphasized. There are a lot of subtle techniques that are critically important to making a good resume that frequently get overlooked, so don’t just rely on yourself to make a great resume. Let us help you too! Check out Walk-In Resume Critiques on Monday, April 2 from 1:30-4pm in C4C N352. These are quick 15-minute appointments to make great last minute revisions to your resume. We are open Monday through Thursday of Spring Break for regular one-hour appointments so call us today at 303.492.6541 to schedule an appointment.

2.   Reflect on your interviews
Reflect on your successes or failures from past interviews. Were you typically offered jobs after interviewing, or where you frequently turned down? If you have had several interviews, but no job offers or positive feedback, it’s time to talk to a career counselor to get some useful tips on interviewing. As with resumes, there are a lot of subtle skills involved in interviewing that can make the difference between getting hired and losing out on a great opportunity. Career Services offers Mock Interviews for those interested in feedback about their interviewing skills and tips for improvement. These are one-hour sessions with a career counselor and can be scheduled by calling our office. Check out some interview videos here.

3.   Take it seriously
The Just in Time Career Fair is one of your best chances to find a job or internship, so take it seriously. Earlier in the year, you may have been unsure about exactly where you wanted to work or what you wanted to do. At this point, its decision time. Handing out resumes to lots of different employers and applying for a large number of random jobs are great strategies early in the year; it allows you to get an idea of what’s out there and what your possibilities are. Now, it’s time to be more aggressive. Pick a smaller number of positions that interest you, and aggressively pursue them. That means sending follow up emails, spending as much time as possible conversing with the recruiters, extensively researching the company beforehand, and doing everything possible to stay in constant contact with the companies’ hiring manager. Turning in a bunch of applications and waiting to see who responds is NOT a good strategy at this point. Check out our Career Fair Tips handout here.

4.   Target specific companies
Download the Career Fair Guide and target companies you want to apply to BEFORE you attend the career fair. If you want to make sure you will be offered a position, it really helps to show the employer that you have taken the time to research the company and know a little about what they do. Don’t ask the recruiters, “So, what does your company do?” Know what they do! Show them you are passionate about what their company does and set yourself apart from your competition.

5.    Tailor your resume
After you know which organizations you are interested in, make specifically tailored resumes AND cover letters for these organizations. A cover letter will show an employer that you are dedicated to THEIR Company, and you’re not just handing out boatloads of resumes to whoever will take them. Make sure to include the company name and position title in your resume for each job you apply to. Do not send a generic resume. See some sample resumes and cover letters here.

6.    Leave your backpack, friends and parents at home
Hopefully it’s a no-brainer to leave your parents at home, but please leave your friends and backpack at home too. Why, you ask? Friends and backpacks can get in the way of some really great opportunities and conversations. You want to be focused when talking with recruiters, so the fewer distractions you have, the better. Let your friends be there to support you in the job search later, but right now it’s your time to shine. Independence is a great quality to have and employers will notice if you’re there with a group of friends giggling and playing follow the leader. They want someone who can be a leader. Backpacks should be left at home so you can feel free and comfortable. If you can’t do that, rent a locker by The Connection bowling alley on the first floor and save yourself some heartache by having a secure place to store your valuables.

7.    Dress to impress
While a suit is not an absolute must- clean, ironed and well-fitting dress clothes are a great way to hit a home run at the fair. Dress slacks, button up shirts, ties and dress shoes are the way to go for men if you don’t own a suit. For women, skirts or slacks can work, along with a nice shirt and dress shoes that are comfortable to walk in. Ladies- if you’ve worn a skimpy dress to the bars or clubs, don’t wear it to the career fair. It’s not a professional look and sends the wrong message. Guys- don’t wear tennis shoes with your suit. You’re not the Biebs. See some ideas of interview dress here. Lastly, keep the cologne and perfume to a minimum. No one wants to be near someone who bathed in cologne or perfume.
Hopefully you found these tips helpful. While it is pretty late in the game to be looking for internships and summer work, with perseverance, dedication and some real preparation, there’s still a chance for you. Bring your A-game and do everything you can to stand out as a star candidate. Good luck, and I’ll see you there!