A quick guide on how to start a conversation at a recruiting event.

Are you attending career fairs and feel like you are spinning your wheels?

Spending the last 20 years recruiting at career fairs, we could probably write a book with all the inappropriate and unimpressive things people have said or asked. As career coaches, we understand that events like these can be difficult, which is why we have put together this quick guide on how to start a conversation at a recruiting event.

Don’t Be Generic
The two most common questions that recruiters receive at most events include, “What positions are you looking for?” and “Can you tell me about your company?” These questions require very little thought and as a result, recruiters become robotic in their responses. Not only is this information typically available online, but every one of the 300 plus people in attendance, ask the same questions. As a result, everyone blends together and no one stands out.
Do Your Research Before the Event
Before attending the event, it is important that you gain as much information as possible about who is attending the event, what positions are available and if necessary, the overall event host. A good way of obtaining this information is through the employer and position lists or the event hosts website. Most job seeking attendees fail to research before the event and don’t talk to potential employers. However, it is extremely helpful when “breaking the ice” and can set you apart from other candidates. Review each company’s career site and jot down the positions you’re interested in.

Make a Good Impression
You may have heard that you have seven seconds to make a good impression. Use the seven seconds to make the best possible impression on your potential, future coworker. Always bring a positive can-do attitude, along with copies of your resume and your Linkedin profile ready to Link in with people you meet. People can easily identify a negative attitude and it’s a huge turn-off. The people who make the best, first impressions make eye contact, smile and introduce themselves with a warm and friendly greeting, while having a straightened posture.

Below is how the conversation should go:

“Hi! I am Suzanne. I’m glad your organization is here. I saw on your website that you were looking for Manufacturing Associates. Can you tell me more about the required skills for these positions?”

If a position is not listed, you can say the following:
“Hi! My name is Suzanne. I read Stratacuity works with companies in Boston and the Greater Boston Area. I would like to know if you have any positions open in the Greater Boston Area within drug development?”

Ask Questions
There is no such thing as a stupid question and once you have done your research, you can develop commonalities and continue the conversation. While the recruiter is talking, listen for anything they mention that relates to you or you have an interest in. You can now make comments or ask questions based on what they told you about the position or the company.

Candidate: “Hi, I am Suzanne. I am not familiar with XYZ Therapeutics. I read they were located in Waltham, MA. Can you tell me more about this company?”

Recruiter: “Sure. This specific client of ours is pioneering new methods to develop next generation, cell, viral, and regenerative therapies.”

Candidate: “Very interesting. I have experience in cell therapy drug development and am looking for a new opportunity. Do they have any positions available at the moment?”

Recruiter: “We do! Email me your resume / pass me your resume / Linkin with me.” Or “We do not.”

Candidate: “Ok, what positions do you have available today? Also, where can I go to keep a pulse on your positions as they come out?”

Recruiter: Lists out the positions to the candidate.

Don’t Forget to Network
Always grow your network! Recruiting events are fantastic. Even if an employer does not have a position you are looking for or anything you are interested in, you can still network with them. Ask if they know any companies that are looking for the type of job(s) you’re seeking. For example, if a recruiter told me they didn’t have any drug development positions and that’s the position I am looking for, I would say, “Thank you for your time. I understand you don’t have any positions available today. Do you know of any companies looking for anyone in manufacturing at this time? Also, if you might have a position come available in the future, what’s the best way to get notified?”

So far, we have reviewed five ways for how to start a conversation at a recruiting event, but of course, the conversation can unfold differently depending on circumstances, experience and research. Now that you have the content, here are a few things to keep in mind when speaking with recruiters and other hiring representatives at events:

  • Be respectful of time.
  • Don’t talk their ears off about non-related things.
  • Be genuine.
  • Be polite.
  • Don’t insult the employer or recruiter and don’t become angry, regardless of what they say or how they behave. Other employers are there and could be watching.

The key to success at recruiting events is research and reading before the event and then leading with a great introduction. Researching allows you to learn about the companies attending the event; the potential positions available and helps you gauge where you should be prioritizing your time. This preparation will help make it easier to ask appropriate questions that lead to good conversations and set you apart from other candidates. I say it frequently and I will say it here too, “If you want to lead, you have to read!”

Wishing you career success!

Source: Apex Systems