Do’s and Don’ts for Meeting with Employers

By the time you get to the Hire UCLA Career and Internship Fair, most of the hard work is over. You’ve rehearsed your pitch, prepared your résumé and ironed your clothes. You’ve found your way there and (hopefully) made it with time to spare. Now take a deep breath and get ready to enjoy yourself.

No, really! This is the fun part. You get to discuss the things that excite you, share the accomplishments that make you proud, and connect with people who want to support you on your career journey. Even the employers who don’t end up hiring you are taking the time to get to know you and hear your goals for the future.

When you think about it, that’s a pretty rare and special opportunity. Let the employers know you appreciate their time by making their job a little easier. Here are a few do’s and don’ts for a successful fair.

Do introduce yourself.

Don’t interrupt.

When you approach an employer’s booth, be prepared to make the first move. Say hello and put out your hand for a firm handshake. Just wait until the employer has finished speaking with anyone else at the booth first. Interrupting another conversation will make a bad impression and likely cancel out anything else you have to say.

Do be polite and friendly to your other fair-goers.

Don’t travel around the fair with a friend.

Another reason not to interrupt? It’s rude to your fellow job-seekers. Being polite and friendly makes the fair a better experience for everyone involved. And here’s the icing on the cake: The connections you make with other fair-goers could point you toward unexpected resources and opportunities in the future. But don’t buddy up. Visiting employers in a group will make you seem less serious and will take the focus off what makes you a great job candidate.

Do play the field.

Don’t let your attention wander.

Make time to visit many different employers at the fair. Even if you have a great conversation with someone — even if an employer has already booked you for a formal interview — it’s still in your best interests to keep your options open. When the conversation wraps up, make a graceful exit and keep moving. But until you leave, give that employer your undivided attention. Acting distracted will make employers wonder whether you’re a good fit for their organizations.

Do deliver your elevator pitch.

Don’t make it all about you.

You’ve probably rehearsed your elevator pitch to perfection and can’t wait to deliver it. But don’t jump in before the employer is ready to hear you. Leave a little time for pleasantries when you approach employers. Introduce yourself and see where they take the conversation. Most likely, you’ll hear something like “Tell me about yourself,” “What brings you to the Career Fair?,” or “Why did you decide to stop by this booth?” That’s your cue to jump in. Start delivering your pitch and listen for any questions or comments.

Do ask questions.

Don’t ask questions you should know the answer to.

In addition to preparing your elevator pitch, come up with a few questions you can ask each employer. If possible, make the questions specific to the organization. But don’t ask questions whose answers are easily available online. Don’t ask what the organization does or which positions they have available. Instead, ask about the organization’s strategic goals and how the position you’re interested in can contribute to them. It’s also a good idea to ask about any opportunities for professional development. Let the employer know you’re thinking about how you and the organization can grow together.

 

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By Tina Jones
Tina Jones InsideTrack Career Coach Tina Jones