What should you know before attending your first career fair or in-person networking event? What skills should you brush up on? How can you make this experience more than just drifting from table to table, grabbing fliers and feeling lost? Here are some tips for young career seekers on how to stay on top of your career networking game…
Prep your resume.
Your resume should clearly state a career objective. And – every detail that you include such as education, skills, computer proficiencies, and career history should support that career objective. An example: let’s say you’re running out of room on your resume. You’re not sure whether to include the unpaid internship or talk about the summer camp job you had. If the unpaid internship is more relevant than the summer camp job to the position you’re trying for, then include that and save the summer camp gig for when you talk in person.
Next, move your education to the bottom of your resume. Prospective employers don’t care as much about where you went to school as they do about the relevant experience that you have related to the potential job. Finally, proofread and print on resume-quality parchment paper. Bring a folder full of copies to pass out at in-person networking events.
Prepare your one-liner.
Some people call this an elevator speech. It’s a brief synopsis of what you want to achieve in your career, or your specialty – what you do best. They call it this because you should be able to convey the entire message in the length of time it takes to ride an elevator. Practice your elevator speech on family members and friends until it rolls off your tongue really easily. This is what you’ll say to people who ask you what you do or what you’re interested in doing.
When you meet someone, make eye contact and smile.
Eye contact lets people know you’re approachable. Make a good first impression by looking someone in the eye and speaking up with confidence. Shake their hand firmly (no “dead fish” handshakes), and look them in the eye while you’re doing so. Show those pearly whites!
Networking is still a great way to find a job. By “networking,” of course I mean getting out there in a professional sense. Make it so that your name gets brought up because you know someone who knows someone in the biz. That’s the best way that I know of for finding a job you love.