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The start of the semester is everybody’s favorite time of the year. With the Student Engineers’ Council (SEC) Career Fair marking the advent of the unofficial recruiting season for many companies, there’s no doubt that an unrecognized wave of anxiety rushes over our collective student body. While this season can often be stressful as students research companies, freshen up their resumes and try to figure out how to craft that perfect cover letter, sometimes it’s the little things that can make all the difference when landing that dream job.
Take advantage of every interaction
There are a myriad of ways to connect with companies outside of career fairs and regimentally apply to open job listings. Many on-campus organizations (SEC, IEEE, NSBE, etc.) host informal recruiting opportunities where company representatives come present, answer questions and take the time to get to know you beyond your resume. But wait, there’s more! By keeping up with companies and recruiters, you’ll learn of the sessions that they host to connect with students and provide further recruiting information. And even better than that, with COVID-19 forcing recruiters to connect virtually, you’re never more than a Zoom link away.
Understand the power of LinkedIn
Now that you’ve attended all of these events, learned all of these names and can recognize all of these faces in a crowd, it’s time to cash in on your hard work thus far. Even prior to the pandemic and subsequent move to virtual recruiting, LinkedIn was one of the most powerful tools that enabled me to connect with recruiters and make progress toward securing that summer internship.
- Recruiters are always on their LinkedIn pages; it’s literally their jobs.
- After making that face-to-face (or screen-to-screen) connection, they are likely to remember you when they see your name and face pop up as a connection request.
- Adding a personal note when requesting to connect can make all the difference as you remind them about your conversation, your interests and a preliminary “thank you” for any help they could provide.
Don’t underestimate the power of a thank you note
In addition to connecting virtually and expressing your appreciation through digital means, recruiters love the personal touch that a handwritten note possesses. After connecting with a recruiter in November of my sophomore year and a few months of back-and-forth emailing, I wrote her a note thanking her for her help and guidance, even though I didn’t actually get the position I wanted. A year later at the SEC Career Fair, she picked me out of the crowd, introduced me to the hiring manager I had interviewed with six months prior, and informed me that she still kept that card (that I had long forgotten about) on her desk.
Writing her the note cost me no more than 15 minutes, minimal hand cramping, and the price of a postage stamp. But to this recruiter, it showed I cared to make the personal connection, so much so that she put her neck out for me, walked me through the recruitment process, and even mentored me that following summer — even after she transitioned to another company.
Make it less scary
In my experience, standing before an HR rep or an engineer at a career fair and spilling my life story and career ambitions can be a rather scary endeavor. But as I’ve grown and matured throughout college, I’ve learned that these people were students just like us only a few years ago. They’ve been in our shoes. As you begin to personalize the process for yourself, put in that little bit of work to stand out. It can make a huge difference in the future.