Recruiter: A Career Fair is Similar to Dating
Recruiter: A Career Fair is Similar to Dating

by Jackie Hennessey
Communications and Public Affairs Writer/Editor

Alex Forman, an account executive at Digital Surgeons, a New Haven-based branding and digital strategy firm that counts Lady Gaga, CrossFit and Fender among its clients, says working the room at a career fair is “really no different than dating.” 

“Be interested without being creepy and be excited without being overly enthusiastic,” Forman said. “Humor is always a plus. Ask a ton of questions.”

Career fairs also are excellent first stops for students seeking internships, noting that he started at Digital Surgeons as an intern.

Students will have the opportunity to interact with recruiters from more than 50 companies and organizations at the 2013 Career Expo on Oct. 25.

Forman is one of more than 50 recruiters who will participate in the Career Development Center’s Career Expo on Friday, Oct. 25. The fair runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Beckerman Recreation Center.

The list of companies and organizations attending include Timex, Northwestern Mutual, Carter Mario Lawyers, Target, First Investors, Consulting Engineering Services, the West Haven Community House, the Rape Crisis Center of Milford, the State of Connecticut Judicial Internship Program, Interpreters and Translators Inc., the Shake Shack and the FBI. Get a full list of attendees.

DeAnn Sinatra, an administrative specialist for the New Haven division of the FBI, said college students who catch the attention of job recruiters start conversations about something they care deeply about – a career they can’t wait to dive into, a run they completed, a soup kitchen where they volunteer each week or a course that changed them. She encouraged students to delve into their interests in and out of the classroom throughout their time in college because it resonates with prospective employers. 

Her advice for the expo: dress professionally, read up on the agencies attending, find a way to discuss those interests and ask questions.

“The one question I wish the students would ask is, ‘What is an average day in the life of an FBI employee?’ she said. “Because I would answer: ‘There is no average day in the FBI.’ One day I am testing special agents or helping employees with insurance questions, and the next day I could be helping on a major search for an arrest in which the entire office gets involved. This is the most exciting and rewarding job you will ever have, and I am very proud to say I work for the FBI.”

The FBI isn’t just hiring special agents. “We have an office setting just like any other company, and we hire intelligence analysts, forensic accountants and evidence technicians,” Sinatra said. “The FBI even has their own auto mechanics and auto shop for the bureau vehicles.”

Matt Caporale, executive director of the Career Development Center, said first-year students through seniors stand to gain from attending the expo – whether it is building contacts, sharpening skills or researching career paths. “It’s a chance to network, to practice talking with employers and to search for a job or an internship,” he said.

Students should bring a well-crafted resume to the fair. For those who feel theirs needs tweaking, the CDC offers resume and cover letter writing workshops and one-on-one appointments with career counselors. Students can also find resume writing tips and an array of other resources on the University’s Virtual Career Center.

“Approach the Career Expo and the job hunt with a spirit of exploration,” Caporale said. “Students might say, `I can’t see myself working for an insurance company or a car rental company.’ But by talking to the recruiter, they might find that it’s a great place to work, or they might discover that the car rental company has one of the top management training programs in the country. With an open mind, they can make better decisions.”

Caporale shared one more piece of advice for all attending: preparing and practicing a focused 30-second pitch about themselves can make all the difference.

“So when the recruiter says, 'Tell me about yourself,’ they have something specific and interesting to say,” he said. “It’s what can make a recruiter remember their name out of the 400 or 500 people who drop off a resume and stop to talk.”

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