Sparkle and Intrigue – How to Stand Out at a Career Fair

by Gabi Bourn,  Production Manager at Wunderman

Making a good first impression at a career fair usually starts with how you introduce yourself, but it’s what you do before and after that really sets applicants apart. Whether you call it a 30 Second Me, Elevator Speech, or something else, how you introduce yourself to a recruiter plays a key role in whether or not you get called in for an interview. In my opinion, there are three steps to standing out to a recruiter: preparing, delivering, and following-up your Elevator Speech.

Preparing: Crafting the perfect Elevator Speech takes research, practice, and preparation. Before you even begin to map out your path at the career fair or research the companies, you should do some soul searching. I know it’s challenging, but you must try to understand what your strengths are and how you can benefit a company.

In your Elevator Speech, you should give recruiters the basics like your name, major, graduation date, and an idea of what type of job you are looking for (full-time or internship). After the basics, provide detail on your strengths, what you are looking for in a career, some research you did on the company, and how your strengths fit within your understanding of the company.

Pro-tip: End your Elevator Speech with a question. Give the recruiter something to respond to. Many students will come up, give their Elevator Speech, and then stare at the recruiter waiting for a response. When students have a smooth transition, recruiters notice.

You’ve crafted the perfect Elevator Speech, you’ve written it out, and it addresses every point. Now it’s time to practice. Practice saying it to your parents, friends, classmates, professors, and acquaintances. This helps for two reasons. First, you will become more familiar with your speech and begin to memorize it. Secondly, you will get experience saying it to people who make you a little uncomfortable. On the day of the career fair, you will likely be nervous, so you might as well get used to it in advance.

Delivering: Successfully delivering your Elevator Speech is made up of a few factors. Its part memorization but not route memorization where the speech is recited without emotion. Your Elevator Speech is about you. You should know every detail, and be able to pull it out in an instant as if you are telling a great story. It’s a part of you.

A great Elevator Speech contains a certain X-Factor. For me, the X-Factor is made up of sparkle and intrigue. Career fairs are long days, and when I see an excited candidate with a sparkle in their eyes, it stands out. Excitement and genuine happiness to be speaking with a recruiter can go a long way. Intrigue is the second part of the X-Factor. Your Elevator Speech should leave a recruiter with a little hint of mystery. There should be at least one element that makes me want to ask you questions. Maybe you mention an unusual skill, maybe I’m surprised by a piece of research, or maybe I want to know about a certain achievement. That little element of intrigue can help you stand out when recruiters are going through the resumes the next day. Also, make sure to leave while there is still some intrigue. I do not need to know your full life story. Keep it short and sweet.

Following Up: Many people think the delivery of the Elevator Speech is the most important part of impressing a recruiter. Right? Wrong. It’s what comes after the first thirty seconds that impress a recruiter. Can you think on your feet, ask good questions, and adapt based on the information the recruiter is telling you? Sometimes people are frozen after their Elevator Speech, and it’s as if they never thought about what would happen afterward.

All of your preparation will lead to having a successful post Elevator Speech. Have questions ready to ask, but be able to adapt. Have research ready to share, and be able to pull out the most pertinent piece of information based on the conversation. By anticipating the possible route a conversation may go, you will be prepared and have fewer surprises.

It may be a little surprising how much work goes into the approximately two to five minutes you speak with a recruiter at a job fair. It might seem like you have a mountain of work ahead of you to create the perfect speech, but there is the good news. You are talking about yourself! You already know the answers. It’s just about compiling the information in a way to highlight your relevant skills. You got this!

First published on LinkedIn 

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