#AskAHiringManager: The Do’s and Don’ts at a Career Fair from a Microsoft Recruiter
By TLC Editorial Team
You went to a career fair, talked to some recruiters and handed your resume out, but still don’t see any results. Career fairs can be intimidating and overwhelming it you do not arrive with a plan. Researching companies before coming to a career fair and any open roles you are interested in can make a vast difference in how successful you are. TLC talked with Microsoft’s diversity recruiter Keisha Ebbesen to gain insight on how to stand out at a career fair if you are seeking a job or internship. Ebbesen touches on common mistakes she sees, what impresses her and the best way to follow up with a recruiter after the career fair. We suggest you take notes and apply these tips to the next career fair you visit!
Q: What are some mistakes you see many students make at career fairs?
A: I don’t think people really make a mistake at a career fair, but being unprepared can make a student feel like they’re making a mistake. Students could have tailored their resume more to fit the description. If you go to the career fair, they usually have a list of companies that are going to be there. If you make a list of the companies you are interested in and tailor your resume to those companies you are interested in, you can have a really strong conversation. At a career fair, you only have about five to six minutes to talk to a recruiter. A lot of people kind of use those five to six minutes as an exploratory conversation to find out a little bit more about the company. If you do your research, you can put the recruiter in the position to move forward with you even quicker.
Q: What can a student do to connect with a recruiter at a career fair?
A: Knowing your passion. To connect with us on any level, knowing your passion and having some guiding principles on what you want to do in your future. I love it when a first-year student comes to me and know what they want to do. It impresses me when people have done the research and are highly prepared and have crafted resumes that they took a little time to go through and are knowledgeable about what we do at Microsoft. There are lots of companies at a career fair, and if you take the time to focus on the ones that are interesting to you, it will benefit you. Dressing for success is also always important.
Q: What are the best ways to follow up after a career fair?
A: LinkedIn is one of the better ways to follow up. We have tons of emails that come into our inbox. LinkedIn is an easy format to find someone quickly and remember their face. When you are following up, I think it’s super important to tailor the follow-up message to the conversation you had with the recruiter. That’s why I say the people who are making the most out of the career fair are the people who are prepared. If you ask a question such as “what kind of jobs do you have?” it’s very basic versus someone who took a look at the website and says “Hey, I’m a third-year finance major, I know you have a really cool program, this is what I did in my past, and this is what I’m looking to do in the future.”
When that person gets ready to write a follow-up message, they can say a lot in the message, such as thank you for telling me more about the program, thank you for letting me tell you what I did, here’s a copy of my resume, is it ok if I follow up with you?
Q: Microsoft is a very competitive company. What makes an applicant stand out from other talented applicants?
A: If you are a part of a national organization directly related to your major, that lets me know that you have taken steps in your academic career to stand out. Affiliating yourself with national organizations can add to your academic profile. We do look at GPA, and we do like to see how people are progressing academically. Even Greek organizations are good. Microsoft is highly invested in that as well as a lot of people that work at Microsoft are involved in Greek organizations. A lot of those organizations focus on empowering the world to be better.
Q: What is some advice you would give students before they enter a career fair?
A: Make sure your research is done, be prepared and be happy and excited to be there. It’s a process and a good way is to try to pace yourself. Mapping out who you want to talk to and pacing yourself is really important.