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You went to the career fair, met a bunch of employers, and got some free swag. Score. However, chances are that they weren’t handing out jobs with those tiny bottles of hand sanitizer. The career fair may have ended, but your job or internship hunt is just getting started.
Career fairs are awesome. They bring tons of employers actively seeking candidates right to you, and present an opportunity for you to connect with companies you may already be interested in, as well as expose you to some you may not have considered yet. You cruise through the tables dropping off your resume and collecting business cards, and you make the most of your two minutes with the recruiters selling them on why you want to work at their company. Great, but guess what? The next guy did that, too. So how do you stand out and be remembered?
Unlike dating, there is no three-day rule when it comes to jobs and internships. You need to follow up with that recruiter as soon as possible, definitely within 24 hours. Employers want to see that you care enough to reach out immediately and continue the process. A great first step is a thank you note. Here are three things to consider when writing that email:
- “It was nice meeting you today” isn’t going to cut it. Quickly remind the reader who you are by introducing yourself and mentioning a specific, meaningful item from your interaction. What did you connect on? Was there a question you asked that surprised the recruiter? Do you share a unique similar interest?
- Present an idea that reflects both your ability to contribute, as well as your level of interest in that specific opportunity. Try and relate it to an aspect of the job and how you might improve it.
- End with a call to action. Set up a time for an informational interview with the recruiter you just met in order to learn more about the company and role one-on-one. Conversely, if your interactions have all been virtual or over the phone, offer to meet in person.
You may think this is common sense, but recruiters everywhere will tell you that so few people actually follow up with them. Doing so will allow you to positively stand out from the crowd.
LinkedIn is your new best friend. Make sure that your profile is up to date and ready to be viewed by employers (bonus points if your LinkedIn web address was already on your resume). This platform is designed specifically for professional networking, so use it to reach out to the recruiters you just met and maintain that relationship. Another great way to make an impression is by connecting with alumni that already work at the company you are pursuing. Establish a dialogue (cough, cough informational interview cough, cough) with a fellow Wildcat and ask how he or she got to his role within the organization. At the end of the conversation, always thank them and ask for a referral for additional people to talk to within the company.
The fun—and strategy—doesn’t stop there. Follow these companies on LinkedIn and other social media and engage in their conversations. Share posts, comment on discussion threads, and reach out to the authors to tell them why you thought of their content was meaningful. The more a company sees you, the more likely it is you will receive an interview, now or in the future. Believe it or not, they are keeping track of your presence at in-person events and online.
Now you know the career fair secret sauce, so use it. Just be careful that all this Eller-caliber relationship building you’re doing doesn’t distract you from actually APPLYING for the job or internship. Be sure to complete your submissions via Handshake, LinkedIn, or the employers career portal.