by Sharon Boerbon Hanson
You want to stand out as the “top dog” when you meet employers and recruiters at networking events and job fairs. Here are a few tips to help you do just that—before, during, AND after the event.
Set yourself apart by using the “YES!” Technique (You as their Employee Solution)
Everyone has IT skills. What will set you apart are your personal effectiveness skills and how you communicate them. Showcasing why you are the solution to their problem is as easy as 1-2-3.
- Think of a talent or a skill you possess (you a team builder, detail oriented, highly flexible, etc.).
- Think of an IT (or other) project problem that skill helped you solve.
- Think of a benefit you provided by using that skill to solve the project problem. (skill + problem solved = benefit you can provide )
You now have your YES statement.
- Practice. Say your YES! statement out loud until it sounds natural. Be prepared to answer a few questions about yourself, and be prepared to ask a few questions as well.
- Know about the companies attending. Go to their websites and research the companies and their industries—for example Xcel (company) and energy (industry). Write down some notes to jog your memory when you meet the company representatives.
- Prepare a few questions. A good one to ask is what skills and type of experience they look for in employees. Come up with a couple more and base one on something you learned from their website.
- Bring a pad and pen. Be ready to take notes regarding your conversation. You can use them when following up (see below).
- Keep your time with each company short. The representative will have many people to interact with, so make your appearance quick and memorable. They will be paying attention to the degree of professionalism (politeness) you display.
- Present yourself as a professional. Be sure to ask for a business card, or write down names and e-mail addresses.
Follow up. After the event, send an e-mail thanking the recruiter for talking with you AND be sure to mention something you talked about during your chat. Fewer than 10 percent of people follow up, so you are certain to stand out. Remember, you are building a network with each interaction.
Sharon Boerbon Hanson is associate executive director of Advance IT Minnesota, a Center of Excellence that promotes awareness of and excellence in IT careers in order to ensure business success. She has over 25 years experience in marketing and brand-building, and more than 15 years as a resume and interview coach. She is the founder of the Twin Cities IT Alumni Association that sponsors IT experts panels and professional skills enhancement events for students and alumni of MnSCU institutions.