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Networking Tips

By Jim Carman, Career and Talent Management Team Leader

Here are some tips to prepare you for your next career fair or other networking event:

  • Introduce yourself to employers with your 30-second “elevator pitch” as you present your resume. Highlight your employment goal, education, qualifications, relevant experience, and always mention the name of people you know who work for the company.
  • Keep the 30 second pitch like a PowerPoint presentation – too much information and it loses its meaning.
  • While waiting your turn to speak to company representatives, give job candidates ahead of you the courtesy of a private conversation ­– stay out of their space while they are introducing themselves and connecting with a potential employer.
  • Dress for success. This is your first contact with the company. You can never overdress. Remember to lose the military jewelry and the mirror-like inspection shoes. The goal is to exude executive presence in civilian business attire.
  • Get rid of the cell phone and the I’m So Important Blue Tooth device – what is more important than talking to recruiters and fellow job seekers.
  • Don't ignore companies you do not recognize – engage the recruiter with the following questions: What types of positions are you looking to fill; are your needs immediate or longer term; and how would you describe the ideal candidate?
  • Talk to recruiters about what you have learned in your research about the company and explain why you want to work there. Be prepared to discuss your readiness for posted positions and always mention the position or requisition number gleaned from the company’s web site.
  • Don’t be discouraged if the recruiter directs you to a website to complete an online application. Many companies require all job applicants to complete this step to facilitate federal government reporting requirements.
  • As you develop an understanding of the company’s needs and concerns, focus on how you can help the company make money or save money.
  • Don't expect to leave a career fair with an offer. The purpose is to make a connection with a company representative and begin the dialogue. Always ask for contact information, write thank-you notes, and remember to follow-up with company representatives.