Career Fair Followup Tips

If there is one question I can always count on this time of year, it is how to followup with recruiters after Career Fairs.  Congratulations to job candidates wanting to take their conversations and build on an initial connection with a prospective employer.  Recruiters struggle to remember even a few candidates during a single day of Career Fair.  Imagine how difficult it is to remember candidates after a full season of traveling to numerous schools and attending numerous Career Fairs.  Before you decide it is a waste of time to attend a Career Fair after that statement, never fear.  I share with you a few tips on how to maximize your Career Fair experience and move to the head of the class so to speak.

  1. Thank you notes:  Most recruiters do not distrubute business cards at Career Fair for obvious reasons.  They do not want to receive hundreds of notes from candidates that are not really interested or qualified for their positions.  What a job seeker can do, however, is write down a recruiter’s name from their namebadge or your conversation.  It is not that difficult to find a company representative’s email address.  A recruiter not giving out business cards can end up being to your advantage.
  2. LinkedIn:  Connect with recruiters and employers via LinkedIn.  You will find that some recruiters want to connect with potential candidates.  Be prepared that some will not though.  In addition, be sure to follow a company’s LinkedIn page.  LinkedIn provides a tremendous platform for connecting and sharing with potential coleagues.  I always refer to LinkedIn as an online rolodex.
  3. Twitter:  Twitter is where its at folks.  Twitter is growing faster and faster everyday, and businesses are effectively using this tool.  Job seekers are making a huge mistake by not taking advantage of Twitter.  Follow a potential employer’s Twitter feed.  Many companies have a special account just for their career division.  A number of recruiters have Twitter accounts themselves.  What a great way to share information.
  4. Cover Letters:  I would be remiss if I did not mention the good ole Cover Letter.  Anytime you send a resume to a potential employer, you should include a cover letter.  Followup with recruiters after a Career Fair by resending your resume and cover letter.  While many will tell you they never read cover letters, many do.  It’s not worth it to try and guess who does and doesn’t read cover letters, so just write the letter.
  5. Other company representatives:  Believe it or not, your booth visits at Career Fair can really pay off when reaching out to other representatives of the company.  Use the story as a lead in for cover letters, conversations or interviews to show your effort in connecting with an employer.

However you choose to followup with a company after Career Fair, be sure to extend your connections beyond the few minute conversation at the Fair itself.  Use those conversations as a foundation for a future relationship with a potential employer and colleague.

Career Fair isn’t just about seeking current jobs but future opportunities as well.   Don’t let yourself be another face in an enormous crowd that is quickly forgotten.  Take notes after each conversation and use that information to leverage your experience and enhance your job search strategy.




8 Tips to Overcome a Negative Internship Experience

Written by guest blogger:  Jessica Newcomb, Assistant Director, Graduate Business Career Services, Mays Business School, Texas A&M University

Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” What a succinct and striking piece of advice that rings true in many life situations. You can never go wrong by focusing on the opportunities in front of you. However, many students have completed 4 or 5 weeks of their internship by now, and some are finding themselves looking around and thinking that other interns were given better projects or are somehow having a better experience. If that statement describes you, consider taking these steps to turn it around.

1. Reach out to other interns. Ask how they approach their supervisor and continue to make connections in other areas. Remember that you don’t necessarily know about the backgrounds and unique skill sets of the other interns.

2. Talk to your supervisor. Do not throw up your hands and resign yourself to spending all of your time on the internet or looking out of a window. Instead, make a commitment to yourself and take a personal leadership role. Suggest ways to expand what you are doing or offer to take on another project. Describe your skills in better detail, and your supervisor will likely learn something he/she didn’t know before.

3. Find out what training exists. Ideally, you are aware of training programs for interns at your company. You may be currently pursuing that training or have completed an onboarding process of some kind. If that is not true for you and you are wondering how you might plug into opportunities, ask your supervisor or others in your department, area, or company. Take advantage of everything the company has to offer because the internship will be over before you know it.

4. Be a voracious reader. Read business journals and articles and seek out additional knowledge that can help you in your full-time job search. Be aware of trends in your industry, growing companies, and keep looking where others are not. Find materials written by leaders in your field or great business leaders in general.

5. Reconnect with your career coach. Contrary to popular belief, career services office are open for business over the summer. While a lot of planning is underway for the upcoming year, we are still here to answer questions and offer advice.

6. Look ahead. You may not want to work at the company for which you are interning. Even if you want to work there, they may not extend a full-time offer for a variety of reasons. Take advantage of being in a new city to meet with contacts and gain insight on where you might head next, and keep your ear to the ground for opportunities you may not have considered before.

7. Offer to be helpful. This point applies to contacts within your internship employer and outside of that company. Everyone is attracted to the person who offers to take something off their plate or contribute in a meaningful and unexpected way.

8. Develop a new skill or ability. Don’t leave things hanging out there on your future “to do” list. Get busy now making sure that you are ready for the job that you want. Self-assess and talk to others who are successful in your area.

If you find yourself feeling a little lackluster about your internship experience, remember that you have a lot of control over that experience. Be proactive and make the most of your internship experience.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Blogs

You are going to spend the rest of the day humming this beloved song from the Sound of Music in your head like me aren’t you?  Today I want to say thank you to just of few of my favorite bloggers for their insites and inspiration they have instilled in my personal and professional life.

Diane Gottsman: Modern Manners and Etiquette Expert.   Diane is also the owner of the Protocol School of Texas and author of Pearls of Polish.  The devil is found in the details of life.  Diane’s excellent advice stomps the devil out of poor manners and elevates professional etiquette to help today’s career manager truly excel.   Diane’s guidance helps readers learn how to positively stand out in business by simply demonstrating respecful manners.  Please follow Diane via Twitter @dianegottsman

The Savvy Intern by YouTern  Anyone seeking an internship or seeking to hire an intern must subscribe to the Savvy Intern sponsored by YouTern.  I found this blog of resources by following a Twitter chat recommended to me by a colleague.  #InternPro can be found each Monday night.  In addition to the chat, please add this blog to your daily reads to receive targeted advice concerning the internship job search.  Please follow YouTern via Twitter @YouTern

Keppie Careers by Miriam Salpeter  Social media heavily factors into an effective job search.  In addition to reading Miriam’s blog, please search for her on the US News career blog.  Creating a professional and branded online presence has become a key strategy for a successful job search. In addition to her overall stellar career coaching accomplishments, Miriam provides the best social networking guidance for job seekers and career managers.   While visiting her website, please take a close look at the career books she has authored and co-authored.  You can also follow Miriam via Twitter @keppie_careers

Bottom Line Ethics by Dr. Michael Shaub.  Dr. Shaub is a professor here in the Mays Business School at Texas A&M.  This authentic blog catches the eyes and hearts of each reader covering numerous topics that center around the same subject: Ethics!  I invite you to read Dr. Shaub’s insights into the varying subjects and news events.  I am amazed at the numerous POSTIVE comments he receives for each blog entry.  His former students can easily be labeled as his fans.  I promise you will subscribe and look forward to the journey of each blog post.  Bottom Line Ethics will entertain you and teach you life-long lessons that you will never forget.  You can find Dr. Shaub on Twitter @mikeshaub

Personal Branding by Dan Schwabel  If you struggle with answering the question “Tell Me About Yourself” then you cannot afford not to check out Dan’s blog and resources.  His book, Me 2.0, outlines a four step process towards creating an effective and results-driven brand for individuals.  You can find Dan featured in numerous networks and blogs.  Dan is a GenY expert; however, his message crosses generations.  Please follow Dan on Twitter @DanSchawbel

I could go on and on listing other blogs and resources, but I thought I would limit my list today.   This list of five excellent resources will provide information and guidance with etiquette, internships, social networking, ethical behavior, and branding.  Best wishes!




Career Prep Before the MBA Program

It’s the time of year when prospective MBA students are looking towards leaving their current employers and transitioning back to the world of academics. Almost every reason a prospective MBA student has for applying to B-School comes down to career. Whether they want to dramatically change professions or the trajectory, MBA candidates seek to change something in their careers. As with any new initiative, people start out extremely motivated and ready to work. At the beginning of their programs, most MBAs aggressively nod their head at advice from their career coaches and promise to stay actively engaged in their job search. Naturally, this energy starts to wane after the grind of academics kicks into high gear. After students begin to realize the amount of time and energy their academic program requires, they start to prioritize their time which sometimes results in the job search being moved down the list. Some students move their job search down the list farther than others, but suffice it to say that job search energy will decrease to some degree within the first month or two of an MBA program.

Knowing the importance of a successful job search in addition to the importance of successful academics, consider implementing the following early to get ahead of the job search process:

  1. Connect with your career advisor (coach) this summer to begin identifying your goals, strengths and weaknesses in regards to your future career goals. Learn what areas in regards to your job search that will require coaching and refining, so you can spend less time making mistakes this fall. National Career Fairs and internship postings start popping up on the calendar very early; therefore, MBA candidates must be prepared to compete effectively in the market.
  2. Start writing your resume NOW! Refrain from taking your original resume and adding a few updates. Start from scratch and construct a targeted resume that presents your professional brand. Seek professional advice from your career coach and learn how to write a new resume that connects your past accomplishments and experiences with your future goals and the skills needed for success with a potential employer.
  3. Join the professional organization most respected in your field of study. Anyone returning to school for a career in human resources should join the local and national chapters of the Society for Human Resources Management. Be sure to not just stop at joining the organization and looking for the next national conference. Engage with other members. Contact the organization officers or board of directors and ask questions on how you can get involved. Look for ways to connect and learn from others in your chosen profession. Share information with other members through a LinkedIn group or Twitter. Show the membership that you are eager to learn and someone to meet. The best way to do this is to focus on being interested in others. Be interested in career paths, companies, and latest trends in HR, etc. Help others help you.

One of the worst things that a potential MBA student can do is wait until the last minute to start thinking about how to activate the search for an internship. The typical professional job search can take upwards of eight months. Waiting to start your job search until the time you begin your academics will most definitely ensure that one of the two will have to suffer. The best job search approach is one that is steadily active and involves great initiative. Start today by seeking ways you can kick start your job search before you arrive on campus and establish a activity rhythm that will sustain you during the busiest of times. Don’t miss the perfect opportunity due to poor planning.





Contacting Employers the Old Fashioned Way

Who would have ever thought that the use of telephones and the US Postal Service would become old fashioned to job seekers? On the flip side, who would think bringing back these old fashioned resources in finding employment could be considered creative? Today’s younger job seeker is amazed at the idea of calling a potential employer over the phone much less sending a resume and cover letter through the mail. The very idea of printing a resume, printing a cover letter, signing the cover letter, addressing an envelope with a stamp, stuffing then sealing that enveloped and finally walking this envelope to the mail box is almost inconceivable in today’s job market.

“Pounding the pavement” has become a lost art in seeking employment. Too many have flocked to the comfort of the online application process. As I have said many times, applying for a position online is a task. An effective job search is a process. As a job seeker, what are you willing to do in addition to applying online to secure your targeted job?

When looking for innovative or unique ways to be noticed by potential employers, why not first return to these two basic techniques used from the not so distant past:

Pick up the telephone: The internet provides easy access in finding general telephone numbers to every business in the world. Call employers. You can certainly call the HR department, but you will probably be more successful by calling the department in which you want to work. Emails can often time get lost, but phone calls are rarely lost or overlooked.

Mail your resume: Typing resumes and cover letters on bond paper and sending these job search packets through the mail used to be the most widely used practice for job seekers just 20 years ago. Today, very few job seekers take the time to print resume and cover letters to mail much less know what bond paper is in the first place. In addition, we are more likely to read the mail we physically receive over every email we receive. The volume of mail we receive at the office has dramatically decreased. Job seekers stand a very good chance of their letter being opened.

Applying online will get your resume into the company applicant tracking system. While some companies do look at these resumes for identifying talent, candidates must take extra steps to be noticed unless you believe in the needle in a haystack theory. In order to prove your interest and commitment for the job to employers, think about returning to basics if you will. Purchase a book of US postage stamps, stationery paper and envelopes, and good ink for your printer. The walk to the mailbox will be good for you. In addition, use the Internet to find a few phone numbers and dial the telephone. Dare to be innovative by returning to what many consider “old fashioned.” You might be surprised with the positive feedback you receive.







Seeking an Internship After Spring Break

The facts don’t lie.  On-campus recruiting dramatically decreases after Spring Break.  Career Centers are still posting positions and employers are still visiting campus, but the volume is much lower than what is normally seen from the middle of January to the middle of March.  Employers have attended Career Fairs, held first round interviews on campus, and are now either extending offers or invitations for second round interviews.  The on-campus recruiting train for spring 2013 is leaving the station. Does that mean it is too late to find an internship for summer 2013?  No.  Just as my blog from January titled Too Late to Find an Internship for the Summer  NO WAY!, it is NOT too late to find an internship.  It is just time to change your strategy.

For the first eight weeks of the spring semester, internship seekers seek opportunities, attend employer events and apply for jobs.  After spring break, internship seekers much shift their focus to new ideas and strategies.  Please continue seeking internship postings, but new strategies much be included for a successful search later in the season.  Consider implementing these action items to your job search strategy for the remainder of this semester:

1. Reconnect with employers you met earlier in the year:  While an employer may have interviewed or offered positions to other candidates, you do not know if all of those offers turned to accepted invitations for employment.  Reach out to those you have met throughout the year and communicate your continued interest.  This approach has worked more times than I can count in the past 20 plus years of my career.  As I always tell job seekers:  no today does not always mean no forever.

2. Talk with faculty:  Career Center professionals may cringe, but faculty often receive employment leads from business colleagues or former students.  These opportunities may never go through the campus career center.  Make sure the faculty who know you are aware of your goals and current employment status.

3.  Consider projects:  Employers hire based on knowledge, skills and abilities.  It s not uncommon for projects to arise late in the spring which leads to businesses needing summer talent.  These projects provide tremendous experience as well as ability to prove value to a potential employer just as a traditional internship.

4. Job leads through social media:  I would be remiss not to remind any intern seeker of the importance of social media.  Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook groups all provide not just job postings but avenues to potential employers.

A successful internship search after spring break requries more creativity, more personal connection and more flexibility.  Good luck!


International Student Job Search Troubleshooting

It’s no secret that international students have very specific challenges in seeking employment in the United States.  Companies that sponsored H1B Visas last year are turning away potential candidates due to changes in hiring practices.  Identifying oganizations that sponsor H1B Visas presents an even greater challenge than usual.

International students quickly realize upon arrival in the US that job search practices here are much different from other countries.   The US Job Search is a breeding ground of mixed messages as to how to find opportunities and secure employment.  It’s no wonder our international students find our job search practices difficult to manuver.   Company recruiters and campus relations departments tell students to apply online while career coaches encourage them to connect with hiring managers and not only rely on the online job application process.   No wonder our international students find our process so confusing.  Now that we have stated the problem, what can our international students do to be a successful job seeker?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Reach out to your network:  Forget the notion that international students do not have a network in the US.   If you are an international student here in the US, you have a large network.   Think about all of the students who have come to the US before you and are now working in the US.  Identifying people who have walked in your shoes is the best avenue for finding people to provide guidance.  A network isn’t just a group of people you know.  A network is a group of people in which you can identify with to build comradary.
  • Get involved in a professional organization:  While sponsoring restrictions may in fact be company wide, your best resource for finding information will always be through your professional organizations.  The contacts you make through the organization can become your best voice for connections and recommendations with others within a company.
  • Build your online professional reputation:  One of the best places for any professional to gain information is through online networking communities.  Notice I was very careful is using the term Social Media.  Change your mindset from how you currently use Social Media to how you can effectively use it as a networking community instead.  Participate in LinkedIn group conversations and professional chats on Twitter, comment on a company’s Facebook or LinkedIn community page, or look for former students from your undergraduate programs in your home country for discussions.

International students must learn one thing if they want to pursue a successful job search in the US — there is not a mathmatical formula to a successful job search process in the US.  The silver lining of the US job search process is that there is a long list of best practices anyone can use.  (Please refrain from the worst practices)  People find employment using a myriad of successful practices.  If one avenue in identifying opportunites does not work, our culture provides many other options as well.  Troubleshooting invovles repairing a broken process.  The US job search culture involves a great deal of troubleshooting but with a great number of options for success.