How To Talk To Recruiters At A Job Fair

The recruiter couldn’t wipe his weird look off his face.

“Are you there, buddy?”

I didn’t realize it at the time but I froze out of shock. He spoke again,

“I’m John, what’s your name buddy?”

My name. Shoot, what’s my name? How do I forget my own name?

I thought I was about to have an anxiety attack. Like a 6th grader running away from a cute girl, I dashed out the door to the nearest restroom.

Deep breaths, Tam. Deep breaths.

“Job fairs are going to be so fun!”, they all said. It’s not fun when you don’t know what the hell you’re going to say. Or when you forget your name.

It’s been a few years since that incident and things have changed dramatically. In a good way!

I landed my dream job teaching entrepreneurship at Stanford University after I met the CEO face to face. I started connecting with so many awesome people at different events and conferences. I even wrote a book on networking that sold over 10,000 copies.

So what happened in between my first job fair until now? The biggest change that helped me connect with anyone was my new mindset.

To genuinely connect with others, I had to get over the fear of putting myself out there. As you prepare for your Fall Career Fair, remember a few basic pointers that helped me during my journey:

Be Yourself

Wow, seriously Tam? That’s the worst advice ever, how the hell do you just be “yourself”?

Being yourself simply means to not try to be someone you’re not. Don’t force yourself to be a super extroverted and outgoing person just because you saw how it worked for your friend.

Play to YOUR strengths.

I’m personally an introvert and if Obama can do it, you can too.

Be calm and in control. Stay on your best behavior of course, but don’t be afraid to show your natural sense of humor and your pearly whites when talking to recruiters.

They love to see personality.

Come Prepared

No, skimming their website does not mean you’re prepared.

The number one complaint employers have is that the students have no idea what the company does when they first meet them.

The recruiters are there to find the best talent, not give an elevator pitch on what they do.

Research all the companies you’re interested in depth BEFORE you actually speak with them. Instead of just learning about what they do, you are coming in to the conversation ready with how you are a great fit to join the team.

Tailor your resume to fit their company’s mission or job description.

But even if you are a perfect fit, just remember…

No One Cares About You

Do you hate me yet? Sorry but it’s true, no one cares about you.

When you’re talking to a recruiter, make the subject all about them and their company.

As the famous Dale Carnegie puts in his classic novel, How To Win Friends & Influence People

“Make them feel important.”

When you talk about your skills and unique experiences, always end it with how you can help THEM.

“I used to work for [Insert Last Company] and because of my marketing experience there, I’m confident that I could use what I’ve learned to help market your [Product Name]."
“Last year, I won our school’s business competition and with my experience working closely in a small team, I learned how to collaborate effectively to achieve a shared goal.”
“I’m currently on the leadership committee for Alpha Kappa Psi and after planning for a successful rush week, I’m confident I can pull strategies we used to benefit you and your logistics team.

Notice how you’re always trying to show your value to THEM.

Keep these main principles in mind and rock out at your next Career Fair. Be yourself, come prepared, and make the other person feel important.  Good luck!


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