Breath Mints and Hand Sanitizer – The Keys for a Successful Career Fair…

Jason Pankow Interviewing, Jason Pankow, Recruiting, Working With Recruiters

The week of Aug. 11, I will be attending the SIGGRAPH conference in Los Angeles.  SIGGRAPH is an organization that represents artists, designers, and computer graphics peeps.  Feel free to swing by if you’re in LA.

Preparing for the event has me thinking about the 10 hours I will be spending in the career booth.Career_fair

Ah, the career booth.  During my time there, I will probably shake 400 hands.  Some firm, some not, some clean, some snot, and about 80% of them will come unprepared.

Here are some suggestions for people attending a career fair:

  • Be prepared.  Please don’t come up to me without a resume.  You’re at a career fair, for crying out loud.  Do you really expect me to remember you by the time the day is over?
  • Dress Appropriately.  You want to look professional, but you don’t necessarily want to stand out.  Dress business casual.  You don’t need to wear a suit (especially not at a conference like SIGGRAPH).  But, you certainly shouldn’t look like you just walked off the street.
  • Confidence…but, not arrogance.  You’re selling yourself here.  You have 60 seconds or less to show me that you are someone who should be speaking to my hiring managers, who just happen to be at the same conference and who also happen to be on speed dial.  Have faith in yourself.
  • Know about my company!  You can get a list of companies attending beforehand.  You should know what we’re working on.  This way, in your pitch, you can be emphasizing how your background will help my company.  You should be the one talking.  If I have to take up time telling you what we do, the conversation will not be very memorable, on my end.
  • Breath Mints.  Not joking.  Career fairs are pretty up close and personal.  I end conversations quickly if I don’t like being close to you.
  • Network.  Very important!  You are at a conference full of professionals in your industry.  Meet as many as you can.  Go to the parties.  Get business cards.  Plus…the same recruiters in the booth will be spending their remaining time in town outside of the career fair at those very same parties.

And, a quick recommendation for creative types, like those at SIGGRAPH:  websites are key.  You should all have a portfolio or demo reel.  But, remember…if you hand this to me in the form of a DVD, I have to bring it back to Seattle with me.  You increase the chance that I will lose or misplace it.  Also…include a reel breakdown.  I’m glad you worked on Lord of the Rings.  But, I doubt you were responsible for all of the animation.  Tell me what was yours and give credit to others where it’s due.

My recommendation for recruiters working the career fair:  Hand sanitizer.  You’ll need it.