An Anecdotal Career Fair Experience
A couple of weeks ago, I attended my very first accounting career fair in a very long time. I had every intent to make the most out of the event. While I was very well aware of some of the customary things that I needed to do in order to make a good impression on recruiters, I kept looking for some out of the box tips for effectively working a career fair. As such, I turned to Google Search to see if I could find a single tip that appeared to have the potential to help me stand out from other job seekers. As I kept digging through the search results, it came to my attention that using a 30 second job search elevator pitch when first meeting with recruiters is an excellent attention getter. Although I don’t like the idea of speaking from a script, I nevertheless went ahead and prepared an elevator pitch highlighting my background, my strengths, and my career aspirations. The Web was not the only place I went to look for answers. I also sought the advice of one of the accounting professors at my school.
The professor explained to me that I ought to go to every encounter with a recruiter with the intent to make her/him feel like she/he can relate to me. This would make it easier for recruiters to match my name with my face when I reach out to them after the career fair. Thus, I was told by the professor in question that I needed to make every effort to ensure that I keep a conversational yet still professional tone when interacting with recruiters. According to the professor, the purpose of maintaining a conversational tone is to identify areas of common interest with each of the recruiters I would be coming in contact with. So there I was with two great tips to experiment with during the accounting job fair.
This was a fairly small sized career fair since there were maybe 12 companies and around 150 attendees that respectively showed up. Consequently, the traffic at every company’s booth turned out to be fairly fluid which was perfect because it created opportunities to have much lengthier conversations with recruiters than it would have been had a huge crowd came to the event. After experimenting with the 30 second elevator pitch a few times, I ended up dropping it because it didn’t seem to help break the ice with recruiters. I don’t know if it was due to bad execution on my part, however recruiters didn’t appear to be interested in my elevator pitch. As a matter of fact, it seemed to me that using the elevator pitch created a vibe not really conducive to starting the kind of amicable conversation the professor and I spoke about. With the elevator pitch eliminated from my routine, all I was doing to start a conversation was probing recruiters on what they hoped to achieve during the career fair. That new approach definitely allowed me to better connect with the recruiters. In fact, in talking to one of the recruiters, I learned that we graduated from two out of state universities that belong to the same university system. So we got to talk about college football as well as the differences between each undergraduate accounting program offered by our respective universities. The recruiter in question is a practice manager at one of the Big 4 accounting firms and has offered to help me in anyway possible to achieve my career goals.
What I have learned from this job fair experience is to stick to my areas of strength. I knew that I was not very good at speaking from a script therefore I should have never experimented with a rehearsed elevator pitch in the first place. Indeed, I am a more effective communicator when I am unscripted. I am however glad that I sought advice from one my professors since that’s how I got to learn about a clever way to meaningfully connect with recruiters during career fairs.