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     Volume 2 Issue 85 | September 7, 2008|


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How Effective are Career Fairs?

These days, career or job fairs seem to be the most happening thing for employers and job seekers alike since it provides the much needed bridge between the two. But many are sceptical about the effectiveness of such fairs since there are so many of them and the unemployment rates still continue to be high. We at Star Campus, have previously published news about different career fairs in our magazine. This week, we will try to find out its effectiveness and would also give you some tips to make the most out of Career Fairs.
Mahdin Mahboob
Star Campus Desk

Making Career Fairs Effective

Ridwan Karim

With the growing necessity of building bridges between the corporate world and the educational institutions, job fairs have become an increasingly common phenomenon in recent times. Often sponsored by career centers, job fairs provide a convenient location for students to meet employers and perform first interviews. Not only can students meet many corporate personalities in one single day in order to understand the nature of jobs that await them in the future, career fair also provides many companies the opportunity to tap the talent pool of prospective job seekers.

However, although career fairs have been able to induce curiosity and enthusiasm among a lot of students, particularly from the business administration disciple; by and large, most students are still rather skeptic about the effectiveness and importance of such career fairs. This skepticism rises partly from the fact that the purposes of career fairs often appear to be rather obscure in the minds of the students. Consequently, this leads to a rather lackluster and unprepared approach towards attending career fairs.

Dr. Randall S. Hansen, founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web; and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, have come up with some simple rules that are required to navigate career fairs successfully. These rules should adequately prepare any student who is willing to extract the maximum benefits from attending any career fair. Following are the Do's and Don'ts for career fairs according to Dr. Randall Hansen:

*Do have a specific strategy for maximizing your time at the event. And don't bother spending time with recruiters from companies that do not interest you.

*Do pre-register for the event, and do attempt to get the list of attending companies before the career fair.
*Don't eliminate companies because they are recruiting for positions outside your field; take the time to network with the recruiter and get the name of a hiring manager for your particular career field.

* Do attempt to research basic information about each company you hope to interview with at the job fair. A common career fair question from recruiters is, “Why do you want to work for our company?”
* Don't just drop your resume on the recruiter's table and walk off.
* Do prepare a one-minute “commercial” that focuses on the unique benefits you can offer the employer - your unique selling proposition. And do be prepared for common interview questions.

* Do be prepared to talk about your work experiences, skills, and abilities. And for college students, do be prepared for a question about your GPA by some recruiters. (And do use the GPA -- overall, college, major -- that makes you look the strongest.)

* Don't be afraid or intimidated by the recruiter; he or she is there to do a job -- to meet and screen potential candidates.

* Do have a few questions prepared for each recruiter, but don't ask questions that any good job-seeker should already know, such as “What does your company do?”

* Do say the recruiter's name several times during your conversation, even if you have to keep glancing at the recruiter's nametag. And do get a business card (or at least contact information) from each recruiter.

* Don't forget to eliminate such bad habits as playing with your hair, chewing gum, fidgeting, rocking from side-to-side, acting distracted, rubbing your nose, etc.

*Do remember all the keys to successful interviewing, including a firm handshake, a warm smile, eye contact, and a strong voice.

* Don't use filler words such as "um", "like", "you know."

* Do bring enough copies of your resume to the career fair. And do bring different versions of your resume if you are searching for different types of jobs.

* Do take advantage of the time you have to build rapport with each recruiter, but don't monopolize their time.

* Don't ever just walk up to a booth and interrupt a current conversation; wait your turn and be polite.

* Do dress professionally -- conservative is always the safe choice.

* Don't waste the opportunity to network, not only with the recruiters, but with fellow job-seekers and other professionals in attendance at the career fair.

* Don't ever say anything negative to the recruiter about your college or previous jobs, companies, or supervisors.

* Do be sure to ask about the hiring process of each company, but don't ask too many questions about salaries, vacation time, and other benefits.

* Do take the initiative and ask about the next step in the process. And do be prepared to follow-up all job leads.

* Do be sure to follow-up with each recruiter. Some experts say to call and leave a message on their voicemail right after the job fair, but at a minimum you should send each recruiter a thank you letter.

As with any situation where you find yourself with a potential employer, job-seekers must be prepared to ask insightful questions of recruiters at job and career fairs.

Strategic Comeback Questions
These questions are designed to give job-seekers the chance to respond to the recruiter's answer with a positive spin on how you perfectly fit (and ideally exceed) what the company is looking for in an employee.

What kinds of skills and experience do you look for in the employees you hire?
What are the characteristics of your most successful employees?
Are graduate degrees important to advancing within your organization? Which ones?
Which courses or experiences do you suggest to be a successful candidate?

Strategic Planning Questions
These questions are designed to give the job-seeker more information and knowledge about the hiring process for each particular employer.

What kind of entry-level positions (or internships) exist within your organization?

Does your company hire on a continual basis or just at certain times of the year?
How long does the hiring process take? What does it consist of?
What percent of applicants are eventually hired? What is the retention rate?

Key Company Information
These questions are designed to provide you with critical inside information you need to know when making a decision about the attractiveness of each potential employer.

Are there specific career tracks within the organization? In other words, what can a typical employee (for the position I am seeking) hired in your division expect to be doing 2, 5, or 10 years after hiring?
What is your organization's culture like?
For how many years does the typical employee stay with the company? Are there opportunities for ongoing training through your organization?
Do you expect your employees to relocate? How much travel is involved?

Recruiter Information
Some experts advise not asking the recruiter personal questions relating to his or her job, but especially if the recruiter is an alum of your university -- or you have some other personal connection -- these questions are fine. Even if there is no connection, these questions can be asked -- and their answers can provide you with some critical insights.

What made you choose this company and why do you stay?
How long have you been with the company?
What's the one thing that most surprised you about this company?

Remember, a job fair is a two-way street and you should be evaluating these companies as much as they are evaluating you. These basic guidelines should assist you in the strategic tool of job-hunting.


Career Architecture

Kazi Ahmed Farhan

Source: www.delivery.superstock.com

These days, getting a suitable job is indeed a very crucial task. After completing their studies, students struggle to find suitable jobs irrespective of whatever discipline they are from. Job Fairs, a new trend in our country, can be a suitable solution in this regard.

Job fairs are suitable for the students not because students can submit their CVs to the respective companies but they can also come across different corporate bodies. This is helpful for them since they can learn different things when they interact with high officials of the companies.

The Job Fairs not only helps to get jobs but it also is a huge source of getting internship for a lot of students. At present there are several universities who provide graduates to the job market regularly. With the number of qualified graduates increasing every year the importance of a Job Fair cannot be denied. The ultimate goal of a student is to get a quality job. It is the motivation which helps the students to work hard during student life.

Today, only academic excellence is not enough to ensure a quality job. There are certainly other qualities that one needs to master to impress the employer. In a job fair, a job seeker gets to know about various key factors like: how to face an interview; how to prepare a convincing CV; how to plan for career in a proper way; what are the requirements of a leading corporate house etc. In a developing country, corporate houses are on the look of talented individuals and job seekers tend to look for high salary jobs. So a Job Fair bridges the gap and strengthens the communication between the two.

In Bangladesh, the students of several universities arranged many job fairs recently. Arranging such a job fair can help the students in many ways. Firstly it builds the managerial power of those students who arranges the job fairs. Secondly, the students can experience the expertise of the company as well as the executives. Thirdly, it helps to build up the confidence of the students that is very crucial for the students. Lastly, it must be remembered that a lot of students have got jobs/internships by these job fairs.

In the University of Dhaka, BBA 8th batch of Department of Marketing is the pioneer in arranging job fair for the first time in 2006 in the Faculty of Business Studies arena. That was a flamboyant success. The outcome of that Job Fair & Career Development is that 26 students got lucrative jobs in esteemed companies including Maersk Bangladesh Limited, British American Tobacco (BAT), Double A, Nestle Bangladesh, Brac Bank Limited, Southeast Bank Limited and Unilever Bangladesh Limited even before completing their BBA degrees. After that, there were five job fairs arranged in the Faculty of Business Studies arena. It has now become a yearly event in Faculty of Business Studies.

Government, MNCs, global companies, local companies, universities have to arrange this kind of programmes in regular intervals so that the students are able to boost their confidence and can be able make a better future as well as a better Bangladesh.

(MBA 8th batch, Department of Marketing, DU)

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