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Career Corner: Be Career Fair savvy and impress employers

Wendy Lycett, Career Services Consultant | Career Services Consultant, Fanshawe Career Services | News | February 11th, 2008

Now is the time for Fanshawe students to start preparing to meet with the employers who will be on campus at Career and Summer Job Fair 2008. On Wednesday, February 13, 2008 approximately 100 companies will be in ‘J' Gymnasium from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to promote jobs and career opportunities to Fanshawe College students and graduates.

In February 2007, over 120 companies and agencies sent representatives to attend Career Fair 2007 and provided over 3,000 students with career and job information. As a follow-up, each employer was asked to provide feedback, in writing, as an evaluation of how Fanshawe students presented themselves. What follows is a synopsis of the feedback which may be of help to you in preparation to attend this year's event.

Employers were asked to give some written “DO and DON'T” suggestions for Fanshawe students with the aim of improving student Career Fair behaviors. The following are some of the main comments received.

“Come prepared as if you are going to an interview.”
“Be prepared as if you are applying for a position.”
“If you are going to hand out resumes, dress as if you are going to an interview.”

Several employers commented that students attending the career fair should have paid closer attention to professional appearances and, as one said, “...not wear track pants, crop tops or display visible body piercing.” One employer summed it up by adding “Don't dress down, business casual at least. First impressions say a lot.”

“Come prepared with several resumes to hand out.”
“Very few students had resumes.”

Employers advised students to bring resumes or commented that students weren't prepared with resumes. However, one employer cautioned students to inquire about careers first and not just offer a resume without knowing about the jobs available. Another employer suggested students should ask how the company accepts applications before offering resumes, while another suggested students could also have business cards to hand out in place of a resume at events like this.

“Introduce yourself.”
“Approach the booth to sell yourself - we had to approach students to give out information.”
“Do introduce yourself and say upfront what program you are in.”
“Don't just ask for the freebies, approach us for information first!”

Several employers felt students should prepare ahead to greet employers. One employer expressed how delighted they were with students who offered to shake hands, especially as they finished talking with them -- they commented on what a positive first impression this makes. Although one employer found some students to be too aggressive and demanding to know what the employer would offer them, several others noted that Fanshawe students were “very keen, polite and interested.”

“Don't be afraid to ask questions.”
Many employers offered the same advice in one way or another. One employer encouraged students by saying “Don't be shy.” Others felt students should have read the Career Fair insert (drop by Career Services, F2010 prior to Feb. 13 to pick up this year's insert) and researched employers to come up with questions to ask ahead of time. One employer offered this positive suggestion about questions: “Don't just ask if we are hiring!”

“Too many students said they have no idea of what field they are going into.” “Research employers, do not say ‘I have no idea what I am looking for'.” “Research companies you may be interested in. Have career objectives.” Several employers commented on this particular lack of preparation. One felt that motivation was in question if students could not give at least one area of career direction. Other employers felt that students should be aware that one has to work one's way up in an organization, not start at the top. Another employer felt that the students who had read the Career Fair Insert before coming presented a positive image as a result. Some employers reported that some students came unprepared and blamed the fact that teachers had not told them about the event. This was poorly received by employers who felt it showed lack of motivation and sounded like an excuse.

All of the comments above were made with the best interest of Fanshawe students in mind, in hopes helping to improve students' skills and prospects for the future. By sending representatives to Career and Summer Job Fair 2008, companies and agencies are demonstrating a high level of interest in students and graduates of Fanshawe College programs. So why not come prepared?

If you would like personal assistance in preparing for Career and Summer Job Fair 2008 or for your next employer encounter, please contact Fanshawe Career Services in F2010 or call us at 519 452-4294 to make an appointment to speak with the consultant responsible for your program.
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