Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Hofstra University Career Fair: An Opportunity to Learn

Close to 700 students took advantage of yesterday’s Spring Career Fair at Hofstra University.  Overall, the 120 organizations provided us with great feedback about you, our students. In fact, one recruiter even commented that our students were better prepared and dressed than a top university in New York City (who shall remain nameless)!

Some of you may have noticed we changed the set up of the tables in the Mack Sports Exhibition & Complex, thus, encouraging students to stop at The Career Center table in the front of the room and ask for assistance. This was super! Students asked for advice on how to approach companies and which companies were a good fit for their interests. Clearly, these students understood that you have to look beyond just the name of the company and explore all opportunities! Students commented to The Career Center staff that they appreciated the chance to speak with so many employers, even if they didn’t have opportunities for them.

While checking in students for the fair, I asked my Career Center colleagues for some observations or constructive criticism from yesterday’s fair:
  1. Women should avoid wearing short/mid-thigh length skirts.  This is considered too revealing for a professional environment. Instead opt for a skirt that comes just above the knee. 
  2. Men should avoid wearing trendy slim-fitting suits. These suits need to be fitted just right and in many cases, are too tight fitting for a professional look and work environment. Instead opt for a classic cut suit that will not go out of style for some time and provides you with a lot more wearings.
  3. Women should avoid wearing open toe shoes. This is considered unprofessional and should be reserved for less serious occasions. Instead opt, for a classic closed toe pump with a lower heel.
  4. Men should not wear sneakers, Converse/Skechers, or casual shoes with a suit.  Instead opt for a classic dress shoe that coordinates with your suit and wear matching dress socks.
  5. Avoid coming to the Career Fair dressed in casual clothes, carrying a backpack, wearing a bulky jacket or carrying your resumes loose in your hands.  Instead opt to bring a change of clothes with you, leave your backpack and jacket in your car, dorm room, or leave them with The Career Center staff, and use a clean folder or portfolio to carry your resumes.  All of this will add to a more positive impression!
  6. Avoid traveling in packs and talking to your friends throughout the fair. Instead walk around independently and develop your own voice and confidence when interacting with employers.
  7. Avoid the inclination to only approach companies you have heard of. Instead think outside of the “box” and talk to a variety of companies especially those who do not have a line of students waiting for them. An empty table may be a job opportunity missed!
  8. If you are a first year student, do not avoid the career fair! Going to a career fair is great practice, an opportunity to develop your networking and communication skills, while gaining valuable advice from employers for your future.
  9. Make sure to gather business cards from the recruiters you spoke with, follow any application directions they provided you, and/or follow up with them via phone or email within 24-48 hours after the fair to reiterate your interest in their company and position.
  10. Avoid discourteous behavior. Once you enter the Career Fair location your “networking/interview” has begun. Be nice to everyone, including The Career Center staff - you never know who is watching. Employers are always in the registration area. While inside the Career Fair don't rush, run, or bump into people. The Career Fair is not a race. Instead, be prepared and make plans to arrive to The Career Fair on time, not in the last 15 minutes of the Fair.
  11. Avoid asking a company “So, what does your company do?” This gives the impression that you are not serious about them or the opportunity. Instead prepare for the career fair beforehand, and research the employer list.  Otherwise, read the company description in the career fair booklet, jump on your smartphone and do a quick internet search, or ask a Career Center staff member. 
  12. Avoid asking about salary. Meeting a recruiter at a career fair is a networking opportunity and a way to gather information.  Salary questions give the impression that you are not interested in their company or opportunity, and only interested in making money.  Salary discussions should be left to the interview process.  
Suzanne Pike,
Director of Assessment and
Career Development

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