By now, you probably know the drill: search for jobs, submit a cover letter and resume and ace the interview. But for many collegiettes, the job search will involve recruiters, whose job it is to seek you out. Recruiters come from companies and organizations and will visit college campuses to find students they might like to hire. Sound scary? Maybe a little. That’s why we talked to Louis Gaglini, associate director of employer relations at the Boston College Career Center, about the top ways you can stand out to a job recruiter!
Why go through a job recruiter, you ask? If a particular company comes to your school, you can assume that they’re looking for students just like you, Gaglini says. So if you’re interested in working or interning for a particular company that is known for recruiting, check out the following tips to make an amazing impression!
1. Find out when events are happening—then actually go to them
If you have a company in mind that you’d love to work or intern for, see if and when they’re coming to your school or city. “Your career center will be in a position to help you find [those events],” Gaglini says. “Talk to professors and fellow students, too.” Some other good places to look? Your school’s daily announcements email, your career center’s website or online system and the websites of the companies you’re interested in.
Don’t have a company in mind? That’s okay, too! Set up an appointment with a career counselor or peruse your career center’s online system to look for companies that pique your interest that are coming to campus. While the prospect of going to these events can be scary, sometimes it’s not enough to just submit a cover letter and resume to a company. Going to the events will set you ahead of other less proactive candidates. “Make sure the recruiters know who you are,” Gaglini says. “You’re taking [your relationship with the company] from paper and email and meeting people live.”
2. Look the part
Need an excuse to buy new heels and a power suit? Here’s your chance. “Make sure you understand what the requirements are for your attire,” Gaglini says. “Find out if [the event’s dress code is] casual, business casual or business attire. Come as expected.”
When deciding what to wear, take into account the nature of the event. According to Gaglini, the recruiting events on campus could be anything from a networking night to a company presentation to a more social event. You might not need the pantsuit for the social event, and your school sweatshirt’s not going to cut it at a networking night. Check out these tips for dressing professionally, no matter what industry you’re interested in! When in doubt, you can always ask an adviser at your career center what he or she would recommend.
“I don’t think you can go wrong with a simple black pencil skirt,” says Vanessa, a junior at Johns Hopkins University. “But I always check with my roommate first before going to events where companies will be represented. A second opinion always helps!”
3. Nail the first impression
It can be scary to arrive at a networking event—what should you do first? Have a goal before you even walk in the door. “Set an objective, like maybe meeting three people. Maybe meet the person to whom you sent your resume if she will be there,” Gaglini says.
A good starting goal? Be visible. Make sure the company knows who you are so you won’t be a faceless job application in the middle of a stack of papers! Depending on the event, there may be several representatives present from the same company. If this is the case, talk to as many as possible. You want to get your name and face out there.
Once you’re face to face with someone you want to connect with, make a great impression. “Shake hands and say, ‘I came to the event to meet you, I submitted you my resume and I look forward to talking to you again,’” Gaglini suggests.
Other great ways to get noticed? Ask a lot of questions to the people you’re shaking hands with. What do they like about the company? Why did they decide to work there? The best advice, though, according to Gaglini, is maybe the easiest to do: just look happy to be there! “Don’t let them ever think you’re not excited to be there. Let them know you’re thrilled to be there,” he says.
Beyond asking questions and giving a great handshake, think about your body language. “I think nodding a lot and making good eye contact is crucial for making sure employers know you’re actually listening,” says Kathleen, a junior at Johns Hopkins University. Want more tips on body language in a work setting? Check out this article for tips!
4. Perfect your 30-second “commercial”
Commercial, elevator pitch—whatever you call it, the face-to-face interactions at recruiting events are crucial because they let you showcase your personality better than any cover letter could!
“Sometimes you may have only 20 seconds,” Gaglini says. “Introduce yourself: your name, major, what you’re interested in and if appropriate, maybe ask for a follow-up, like, ‘Would you mind if I sent you my resume? Or if we met up?’”
The best thing you can do is practice, Gaglini says. Practice in front of your mirror, to your roommate or to your career counselor—go over possible scenarios and what you would say. “You have to piece it together for [the recruiter] and say why you need to develop a relationship with them,” he says.
How would you be valuable to the company? What would you get out of an internship or job with them? Keep it short, but pique their interest! Confidence is key, which is why Gaglini recommends you practice as much as possible.
5. Follow up
At the end of the pitch, ask the recruiter if you can follow up, like if you can send your resume to him or her or have another conversation. This will show you’re interested and proactive! If appropriate, bring a few copies of your resume to the event. Ask your career center if the event is conducive to handing out copies beforehand, though.
“Once you’ve connected with someone, now it’s your time to stand out without pestering or bothering them,” Gaglini says. “You’re keeping that connection alive by asking them if you can set up some time.”
At a minimum, send an email to the recruiter thanking him or her for their time. Feel free to ask some follow-up questions if you have them. Handwritten thank-you notes also make a big impression. “Employers love thank you notes, whether it’s after a short encounter at a career fair, or after an interview with them,” says Devon, a senior at Bryant University. “It proves your appreciation for the company and shows your desire to work for them!”
Of course, there’s a fine line between being assertive and annoying. If you say you’re going to follow up with an email, do that and then back off for a little bit. “Sometimes you just have to be cognizant and self-aware. This takes practice,” Gaglini says. “You have to know if you’re pushing too much. Your career center can assist you. Ask your career center, ‘Do you think it’s pushy if I do this?’ Your career center will be straight with you.”
While every situation is different, an example of being pushy could be emailing the recruiter several times a week if they’re not replying back. If you ever have doubt whether or not your contact with the recruiter is becoming too much, talk to your career counselor. Every case (and company) is different.
While meeting with recruiters can sound intimidating, with a little practice and confidence, you’ll be connecting with companies and getting top jobs in no time!