Why Do You Want to Work for Our Company?

How many of you think about this question BEFORE you step up to an organization’s booth at a career fair?

Question mark sign

What attracts you to that booth? If you’ve done your research ahead of time, this question can be answered fairly simply. They have the prestigious name you’d like to work for. The work seems interesting and satisfying. There are benefits with the job. They have job or internship openings.

You are just looking for a place to land… Sorry, this last one is wrong! It implies you didn’t do your job ahead of time to research the companies that were coming to the fair. Let’s take a little look at how you can prepare ahead of time for the career fair.

  • Know what you’re looking for – Do you want an Internship? A job? What type of company would you like to work for? What do you want to do? What skills do you want to learn/use?  Think ideal internship/job. You can always adjust your criteria as you start your research.
  • Know who’s coming to the fair – Most career fairs will provide a list of the companies and organizations that are planning to attend. Research the companies/organizations to find which ones match (or come closest) your ideal list. Then, figure out if you meet their ideal list (they have expectations, too).
  • Put together your resume – This is a general resume that covers your skills, abilities, accomplishments, etc. It will appeal to a wider range of employers than the resume you will send when applying to a specific company for a specific job. Career & Leadership Development can help you. Schedule an appointment (phone: 262-472-1471; in person – UC 146) or email it for a review. Be sure to have another set of eyes look at your resume.
  • Print your resume on resume paper – Don’t print multiple page resumes back-to-back or staple pages together. In general, a one-page resume, well-written, should be sufficient for a career fair. Make enough copies for the employers you plan on seeing, plus a couple of extra “just in case” resumes.
  • Dress properly – Business dress is always appropriate, but at least come in business casual. You’re trying to make a good impression.
  • Practice your elevator speech – Tell me about yourself in 30 to 60 seconds.

Best of luck to you at this year’s Multicultural Career Fair!

Additional Information & Tips:

Photo by Colin Kinner.

How to Introduce Yourself Effectively at the Career Fair

First impressions matter, a lot. I heard this from my mom, a long, long time ago. And, as usual, she was right. Recruiters tell us about their experience at our career fairs – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

One of their biggest frustrations they share is when students approach them and don’t say anything at all, or say the wrong thing. “What kind of job do you have for me?” is not a proper way to introduce yourself to a potential employer.  Oops! The good news is we can all improve our career fair skills.

John Grisham Gives a Me a Book

Realize that a career fair is a networking event. It is all about how effective you are in introducing yourself to recruiters, and how comfortable you appear while carrying out your part in a brief, focused conversation.

Develop and practice your self-pitch. Your self-pitch is what some people may call their “elevator pitch.” It’s a way to introduce yourself and communicate your personal brand. One of the main things we encourage students to do before the fair is to develop and practice your self-pitch, including the handshake. For some networking events your self-pitch may last about a minute, but for a career fair I suggest making it no longer than 30 seconds. When I’m the hiring manager, I want candidates to be enthusiastic about their chosen career path. Passion. I want to see their eyes light-up. For me, it’s maybe more of a feeling than the words they say.

Before writing your self-pitch, reflect. Why did you choose your particular career path? What excites you about working in this field in the future? Which of your values, interests and abilities best align with what’s needed to be successful in this field? What experience do you have that have helped you prepare to work in the field? Answering these questions and others will help you connect with your passion, to find your spark.

Knowing this, weave the spark into your introduction. Include in your introduction some of the basics: name and major, expected graduation date. Then find a way to include your spark into your self-pitch. I don’t believe there’s one, correct way to do this – everyone will have a slightly different self-pitch. By sharing your “spark” you will set yourself apart from the others who meet the recruiter. You’ll be remembered.

Photo by Scott Brenner.

Multicultural Career Fair

The annual Multicultural Career Fair will be held on Thursday, February 10, 2011 from Noon until 4:00pm on the UW-Whitewater campus in the University Center, Hamilton Room. This career fair is open to all students, providing attendees the opportunity to further develop their professional network by having focused conversations with recruiters. The opportunity to practice the skills associated with networking is extremely valuable, since many entry-level job seekers struggle with participating in succinct, meaningful conversations with prospective employers. I consistently hear from recruiters that many fair participants need to improve their skills in this area.

It’s best if students planning to attend the fair develop and practice their self-pitch prior to the day of the fair. A good self-pitch incorporates a good handshake and greeting that includes your name, major, year in school, and something that relates to that particular employer, such as an internship or work experience that you’ve had that aligns your career interest and direction with the employer.

Beyond the self-pitch, students will want to ask thoughtful questions of the recruiter. You won’t put your best foot forward if you ask the recruiter to tell you about their company or ask, “What does company X have for me?” Prepare your questions in advance, and be ready to ask one or two questions immediately after your self-pitch. Most likely your entire conversation will be brief, probably in the 2-3 minute range.

When you’re prepared for the job fair experience, you will stand out to the recruiter. See you at the fair!