On Thursday, October 8, thirty organizations will be on-campus to network with Capilano University students and alumni, sharing insights, tips and information about employment within their organization and industry.

Register now for the Capilano University Career Fair. All students who register online and attend the fair will be entered into a prize draw for a $25 Chartwells voucher!

If you have attended any of the on-campus Career Management workshops or have read any up-to-date job search advice, you will know that networking is the key component of a successful job search.

Many people get nervous at the thought of networking. If this is you, you are not alone! Research shows that 80 per cent of individuals often feel uncomfortable at the thought of networking.

Fortunately, your friendly Student Employment Services have supplied the following tips to overcome anxiety and get the most out of this event. (If you want to sharpen your game even more, additional networking information can be found here.)

  1. Do your homework

Just like going for an interview, research is the key to having a successful career fair experience.

Knowing how important this is, and how busy Cap U students can be, we have done the initial work for you! Visit the list of exhibitors to find out who will be at the fair and read a short paragraph about each of the organizations.

For the organizations that you are particularly interested in, do some additional research by checking out their website and follow them on LinkedIn and/or Twitter. Remember, employers are not impressed by students who ask them what their organization does!

  1. Prepare your elevator pitch

An elevator pitch is a technique to concisely (i.e. in 20 seconds maximum) get your point across: who you are, what you’ve accomplished and where you hope to go in the future. This is a good technique to use to respond to the “tell me about yourself” question or as a way to introduce yourself when you approach employers. A good model to follow is:

  • Present: Where you are right now
  • Past: A little bit about the experiences you’ve had and the skills you have gained
  • Future: Where you hope to be and/or why you are at the event

Remember not to over-practice your pitch, as you don’t want to sound unnatural and rehearsed. Many conversations will flow without having to use your pitch, but it is useful to have one prepared.

  1. Dress for success

Dress for the job that you want. If you want an employer to see you as a potential colleague, rather than a student, you need to present yourself as a professional.

For men, this will mean dress pants with a shirt or sweater and casual shoes (no runners). Women should choose dress pants or a knee-length skirt or dress with a blouse, dress shirt or sweater and simple shoes (no runners). Check out the ‘Dress for Success’ PDF for more information.

You should also make sure that your hair is tidy. Men—arrive clean-shaven (or have neatly trimmed facial hair). Women—don’t wear too much distracting jewellery or make up.

  1. What to bring

If you are lucky enough to have a locker on campus, leave your backpack, books, lunch bag, etc., in it for the duration of the fair. You don’t want to have your hands full when trying to chat with potential employers!

Take a professional (dark-coloured, simple) purse or bag to carry these career fair essentials:

  • Business cards: Once you make a connection with someone, it is normal business practice to exchange business cards. You will find suggestions of where to get these printed on the Career Fair registration form.
  • Resumes: Keep these in a folder in case an employer asks to see it. You don’t want to hand these out to every employer, only the ones that you talk with and are interested in working for. Please see the resumé guide for more guidelines.
  • Pen and paper: Once you have spoken with an employer, discretely take notes about your conversation so that you can send a personalized follow-up email, thanking them for taking the time to talk with you.
  1. Keep calm and network

A common observation from employers is that students don’t talk to them at these events. Remember: the only reason that these professionals are on-campus is because they want to talk to you!

If you do get nervous at networking events:

  • Set yourself a target for the number of employers that you will have a conversation with. It is more useful to have a good conversation with two or three employers than a short, impersonal chat with 20.
  • Take a break. After each conversation, go and get a quick drink of water or take some time out to make your notes.
  • Prepare some questions in advance. For example:
    • What is it like to work at ABC Organization?”
    • How long have you been working with ABC Organization?
    • I read that you are opening a branch in Whistler. Are you planning on expanding to other cities in B.C.?
  • Remember that likability is vitally important to hiring decisions in Canada. Smile, be polite, be friendly and make eye contact!

Register now for the Capilano University Career Fair. All students who register online and attend the fair will be entered into a prize draw for a $25 Chartwells voucher!

Submitted by Eilidh Sligo, Student Employment Services