Job Hunting 101: Career and Graduate School Fair

students leave the Recreation Center

Get your shirt ironed, shoes polished, hair groomed and put on your best perfume… No, this isn’t for a date. Instead, it is to make a memorable first impression on your prospective employer. On October 5, 2016, more than 1,000 students visited the Student Recreation Center to meet with over 160 of the region’s top employers and graduate schools. Students had four hours to talk to companies such as Inspira, Lockheed Martin, American Cancer Society, Target and Univision, just to name a few. All you needed was your Rowan ID, copies of your resume and that sparkle in your eyes.

students walk through a career fair, past employer tables

Our go-getters ready to say hello to the “real world” reaped the benefits of the largest Career and Graduate School Fair ever hosted by Rowan’s Office of Career Advancement. The event was obviously worth visiting for a couple of reasons: networking and meeting company reps that are usually hard to reach, plus, a free LinkedIn photo taken by a professional photographer.

While there were many graduate schools offering plenty of useful information about various degrees, I focused my attention primarily on the employers. Almost every employer I encountered has hired someone from Rowan either full-time or for an internship. But the real reason I visited the fair was to find out what kind of qualities the employers are looking for. In other words how can you successfully land a job? So, here is what top employers say an ideal candidate should look like:

Show Interest in a Job

students walk through a career fair, past employer tablesMany employers seem to agree on that you have to show an interest in a job. As Michael J. Ambyth, an HR recruiter and analyst from Edmund Optics, says the company can train students in the skills they want, but it can’t train them in a passion, in an interest for the job. Oops, apparently, the fact that you found a perfect resume template online, dressed up and left your dorm was not enough effort.

So before talking to someone, research the company you wish to work for. Find what current and former employers tell about the company using Glassdoor website. Ask questions to show your interest in a job. Share some related or just any experience that you have so far. What I found interesting was that companies looking for engineering majors are willing to train new employees and hire without related experience. Whereas, companies looking for business, marketing or other non-STEM majors expect you to have at least one year of related experience.

Be Open and Engaging

And what is even more important: be natural. A day after the fair, hardly any employer remember every single person they spoke with. But for sure they remember at least one person they had an interesting and engaging conversation with. Rowan alumna Michele Pizzutillo was at the fair representing The Wyanoke Group, and she believes the ideal candidate should not be shy, not too nervous, prepared and show an interest in a job, of course.

students walk through a career fair, past employer tablesSo how can you be open and natural, when you obviously are going to be nervous about talking with a potential employer? Be honest about yourself. Briefly mention what your career and life goals are. Maybe you are planning to work for a couple of years in your field of study and then start your own business or go to a grad school. Showing the employer that you know what you are going to do with your future means you are courageous, self-assured, independent and all these other good qualities they are looking for.

Dress Professionally

Surprisingly, but this was not the first thing on the list of qualities potential employers are looking for. And only because business attire policy is something every employer expects you to follow. Jennifer Berry, assistant vice president of human resources generalist/recruiter from Sun National Bank, thinks the potential employer should be dressed nicely and be able to communicate well. Dress to impress really works when you try to make a lasting first impression. However, do not forget that your resume comes next, so be sure you work on it before you hand it in.

What happens after the Career Fair is over?

students walk through a career fair, past employer tablesIt varies from company to company. Most of the employers said they were going to email all of the outstanding prospects with an invitation to a formal interview. However, if you were to apply for a full-time position then most likely you needed to go online and fill out the necessary paperwork. Jennifer Kalczewski, an HR generalist and corporate trainee from Tucker Company Worldwide, came to Rowan’s Career Fair for the first time and was impressed to see so many Rowan students well-dressed and prepared. She expects students to send her a follow-up email within 24 hours after the informational interview. The email shows you are really interested in a job, plus you remind about yourself and let her know that you remember her, too.

Have you visited Rowan’s Career and Graduate School Fair? What employers did or would you have an informational interview with? Please, share your thoughts below.

By: Natalia Panfilova

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