5 Career Fair Hacks
By Suhail Bhandari
A couple of weeks ago, I attended Uncubed, NYC. For those of you who haven’t been – it’s a swift kickstart in the pants to get your career going. You can expect to find promising startups from just about any industry, coding & marketing jobs, free beer, and an umpteen number of networking opportunities. I spent the whole day there, going from one booth to another – occasionally stopping by GrubHub to pick up some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies – and here’s what I learned.
1. Call Ahead and Make a Reservation
At the Meetup booth, I was mid-way through a riveting ‘30-second-pitch’ when my interviewer suddenly lost all interest. “Hi Julie!” he screamed to the girl who’d just walked in. “I’ve been looking through your work, and it’s great to finally meet you in person. Let’s talk about spending your summer, interning with us.” What? How?
I bumped into Julie later that day – she’s goes to Pace University as well – and asked her what that was about.
Turns out, in order to distinguish herself from the rest of the crowd (me!), Julie had begun working this job fair a month ago. Via a series of e-mails and phone calls, she’d already managed to build a relationship with the guys at Meetup. So, by the time Uncubed came around, they knew who she was, taken a look at her portfolio, and were ready to offer her an internship. All she needed to do was show up that day.
2. Is Your Resume SEO Friendly?
It was at the SoftNice Consultancy booth that I got one of the most helpful tips of the day. “Your resume will not get you hired, like this. Bullet points, figures & crisp sentences are not as important as keywords.” Think of your resume as a business card. It simply announces you. When a company receives a resume, before they read it, they scan it for keywords. These words depend upon the job profile you are applying for. In order to even qualify for consideration, you need to have at least a 70% match — only then will they begin to find out more about you.
3. Google Before You Greet
Now, this one’s just common sense. Some of the best startups have the vaguest names. So, if you’re planning on working the entire fair, odds are you’re not going to know what every company does just by their name. Oscar? Trulia? All fantastic companies… once you know what they do. Don’t wing it! That’s just insulting. Instead, find a quiet corner and Google them. Then, mentally jot down a few talk points.
4. What do First-year International Students Do at a Job Fair?
By law, an international student cannot work off-campus (paid or unpaid) for the first 365 days of their program. All the more reason I suggest you walk in like a boss! Without the onus of a job opportunity hanging over your head, you’re free to mingle, seek advice, collect a few visiting cards, and have companies tell you exactly what they want you to do for the next few months so that they can hire you.
A silver lining on a silver platter!
5. A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words