The Rules of Engagement: Impressing Campus Recruiters
Posted by Michelle Grottenthaler on May 6, 2011
Throughout the year, employers deploy recruiters to campuses to scout out the best and brightest. Don’t get caught on your heels. Taking an active approach by preparing for the first wave of recruiters will set you apart from the hundreds of other students company reps are bound to meet.
1. Gather Intel
Career centers are your greatest ally when it comes to on-campus recruiting—so take advantage of them. “It’s a common misconception that the career center is geared toward a specific major or year,” says Tim Luzader, director of Purdue University’s Center for Career Opportunities. “But it doesn’t matter whether you’re a freshman or a senior, you should just go and see what they offer.” Check with your career center to stay up-to-date with recruiting events, sign up for newsletters, and visit its career resource site regularly.
2. Choose Your Targets
Scan the list of upcoming visitors and select the employers that interest you. If you’re not familiar with an organization, take a look at its website and Wikipedia entry before narrowing down your list. Don’t pick more companies than you have time to study up on. “If there are 25 recruiters coming to an event, focus your energy on your top five,” says Jesse Downs, assistant director of job search at Louisiana State University Career Services. “You won’t be as effective of an interviewee if you try to meet with them all.”
3. Conduct Reconnaissance
Downs says the number one complaint he hears from employers is students’ lack of research. “The employer has an expectation that you have a basic understanding of the company and its services. If you don’t research the company, the employer may feel you are wasting their time.” Get a sense of each company’s business model and culture. Catch up on recent press or industry developments you can reference when speaking with recruiters.
4. Train For Your Mission
If possible, schedule a mock interview at your school’s career center. Some centers will videotape the interview so you can review your performance. Practice your elevator pitch. Get your resume critiqued and attend interview workshops. New York University offers an Acing the Interview seminar for students and invites recruiters to participate. “We often have employers who come to meet with the younger students to educate them about the industry, or who just want to give back to the students by helping them prepare for an interview,” says Diana Gruverman, director of employer services at New York University.
5. Make Contact
One week prior to the recruiters' visit, initiate contact with them. Perhaps the employer has a Facebook page or LinkedIn profile. Become a friend or fan, and send the company a message. Let the recruiter know you’re looking forward to meeting. Make yourself stand out from the competition by showing a sincere interest in the company. Don’t forget to double-check your spelling. And don’t be a Facebook stalker: One message is enough.
Greet the recruiter with a firm handshake and a smile. Give a brief introduction of yourself and ask a pointed question. Be prepared to talk about yourself, but also have backup questions to fire back with. Let the recruiter know you’re genuinely interested in the company and its mission. Illustrate a connection between the company’s values and your own by providing an example of your work experience. Hand over your cover letter and resume, and tell the recruiter you plan to follow up.
7. Maintain Contact
Send a thank you note! Tell the recruiter you enjoyed meeting him and you enjoyed learning about the company. Differentiate yourself from the other eager faces by referring to something specific from your conversation. Again, stress your interest in the company. State whether you’re looking to participate in the company’s internship program or want to be considered for a job opportunity.