Imagine a place where you have exactly 30-seconds or less, starting from when the recruiter first sees you, to sell yourself in a way that makes them want to give you the opportunity to apply for a job. Now imagine this place is filled with hundreds of people all dressed in suits, and like you they are trying to catch the interest of these recruiters. Well, such a place exists and it’s usually filled with college students looking to take their first steps onto the path to find a career, and this place is called the career fair. For anyone the career fair can be a very intimidating place, because it is filled with potential employers, who are looking for people with specific majors and skills to apply to work at their company, and more often than not they weren’t looking for a guy walking around with English major on their name tag.
As I was walking around the career fair one of the first things I noticed was that not many companies were eager to talk to someone with a liberal arts degree (unless it was for a position as a teacher within a school), and more often than not accepted their résumé without even glancing at it, or listening to how they might be a perfect fit for the company, because as everyone knows the only thing liberal arts majors are good at is teaching, am I right? WRONG!
For liberal arts majors it might be difficult at times to capture the interest of potential recruiters, because they might only be looking for business majors, or other career oriented majors like engineering and accounting, but one thing I learned during the career fair is that it’s possible gain the interest of a potential employer, even though you might not fit the specific degree they are looking for, and it all starts with how you sell yourself.
When I first entered the career fair I knew that there were certain companies that I wanted to talk to, but as an introvert it is hard for me to talk about myself, and the simple act of talking to someone I don’t know can seem petrifying at times. So I started out by going to the booths of companies that weren’t at the top of my list to stop by, and used them to build myself up, because the first couple of tables that I went to I simply listened to the others in line talk to the recruiter about their qualifications and noted the questions that they asked, and how they carried themselves throughout their conversations, and one of the first things I noticed was the fact that while some stated what type of degree they was working towards, there were others that would simply state the skills that they had obtained thanks to their chosen majors, and how these skills would benefit the company in one way or another. There were also those who would engage the recruiter even if they didn’t seem interested in the person, but by the end of their conversation the recruiter would be fully engaged with the person because of the way the presented themselves.
What I learned from this is that:
- Be adaptable and know yourself
when talking to a potential employer you don’t have to say “Hello my name is_____ and I’m an (insert liberal arts major here),” because the idea is not to be defined by your chosen degree, but instead you should open with “Hello my name is ______ and I feel I would be a good fit for your company because I am ____ (list of skills).” By doing this you are telling the recruiter the skills that could be beneficial to their company, instead of letting them assume what skills you would bring based upon your chosen degree, and the goal is to make yourself marketable to the position. When talking with recruiters you should look and sound confident in yourself and the skills that you can bring to the company. Always remember one thing though, there is a fine line between being confident in yourself and being cocky, so you must present yourself in a way that shows confidence, without being cocky, because there is a big difference in believing in yourself, and believing your the greatest gift to mankind.
2. Have some knowledge of who is going to be there
One thing to remember is that as a potential employee you should have some knowledge on the places you’re wanting to apply for, so before the career fair you should do some research into what companies will there (most places that host career fairs will have a list on their website), what the company is known for, and what positions they are looking to fill. One sure way to immediately lose the interest of any potential employer is to know nothing about their company, so when preparing for a career fair remember to do your homework, and have some information prepared on the companies that you are interested in working for.
3. Don’t panic!
Even though the career fair can seem like an intimidating place, by knowing yourself and the skills that you possess, and carrying yourself with confidence you can effectively present yourself to potential employers. Don’t panic if things don’t go your way during one career fair, always remember that there will be others with companies who would be lucky to count you among their employees, and every career fair you attend is another chance to get your name out their for potential employers and to create networking opportunities.