(Photo by Justin Durner)
Job fairs are overwhelming. Having a plan is half the battle.
Our annual career fair, NET/WORK Philly, is right around the corner. We’ve designed it to be low stress, laid back and fun — but with hundreds in attendance, you may only have a few minutes to make a meaningful connection with a potential employer.
So, we talked with hiring managers and decision makers from five presenting sponsors to create your game plan for making a good impression.
1. It’s OK to play the long game
You’ve put in the work, and your research efforts have returned many great-fit organizations, but that perfect job opening is still elusive. Don’t lose heart! Employers are looking to make connections — even outside of the hiring timeline — and develop a pipeline of potential candidates that they can develop relationships with over time.
“We’ve had many candidates who we really liked but we didn’t have that position for them, or something didn’t work out,” Palochko says. “We reach back out to them a year later, or they’ll reach back out to us, and then were able to get them in the door and start conversations again.”
2. Be personal, not packaged
Focusing on the impact of specific projects can be more powerful than giving a running list of your work history.
“We are not the kind of company that’s looking for packaged answers that hit the perfect bullet points,” says Eastern Standard’s Keller. This is the more important thing to emphasize: “‘Here’s why [this experience] was relevant to what you guys do here,’ or ‘Here’s what I learned from it,'” Keller said.
When talking to potential employers, be prepared for what the specific employer might be looking for. For example, Pinnacle 21 Talent Acquisition Lead Liam Munley tells us if it’s a mid-range developer they would be looking for “at least two to two and a half years work engagement history.”
3. Speak to how you’ll contribute to the bigger picture
Hero Digital Senior Manager of Employee Experience Bethany Perkins offers this tip: “If you’re interested in joining Hero, start to do some research and read case studies on the website. Start to understand what we do, what we think about when we do it, how we’re impacting our clients’ customers.”
Cross collaboration and the ability to swim in multiple lanes is a major plus. “We want to integrate the teams because that’s where the best ideas come from,” says Perkins.
“We really try to foster that sense of communication within the teams,” says Ireland. ”There are no high cubicles. Everything is low. It lends to easy collaboration.”
4. Don’t be shy, ask about the company’s culture
Gender diversity a must? Extensive on-site training a deciding factor? Ask about it.
Ireland describes CardConnect as a company serious about a healthy work-life balance.
“The teams are very strong and very tight-knit within the technology group,” says Ireland. “We allow, especially on the tech side, work from home. Our office was recently renovated. We have semi-monthly acupuncture, weekly yoga.”
Pinnacle 21’s Munley describes the company as one of the most flexible and communicative environments he’s worked in.
“If you have your own ideas, you’re really applauded to see those out to fruition,” says Munley. “It’s really an environment that if you want to learn, come and learn. Go with the product and grow with the product.”
5. Show your interest in the company not just the role
Ask questions that reveal you’ve done some research on the company, and are also pertinent to your specific wants and needs.
Says Linode’s Palochko: “People who are familiar with who we are typically make the best employees here. We try to hire people who want to work for Linode, not just people who do their job.”
Says Hero Digital’s Perkins: “If the kind of clients that you’re working on is important to you, come with an understanding of who our clients are, and questions about those clients that are important to you. The more personal and relevant your questions are to you, the more it’s gonna inspire really great conversation.”
Here are some of the jobs these companies will be hiring for at NET/WORK. Now get researching!
- CardConnect: Business Analyst, Senior Software Engineer – Java
- Eastern Standard: Support Developer/Server Specialist, Lead UX/UI Designer
- Hero Digital: Lead Front End Developer, Senior UX Architect
- Pinnacle 21: Front End Software Engineer, Back End Software Engineer
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