Career Fair Tips

The past couple of months I’ve been doing some recruiting for my awesome company SalesforceIQ. Part of it has taken me to some career fairs. While I’ve met some really great candidates, there are several things I’d like to share from the recruiter perspective.

Firstly, there is always a hot topic of the day. Currently, it’s Machine Learning. There are several other ways of saying it, Data Science, or NLP (Natural Language Processing) for example. They all refer to the same thing. Working with large amounts of data and discerning information from it.

It makes sense because one of the biggest problems facing computer scienctists these days is how to make sense of all this data we have. It’s a big problem. It appears like a fun problem, because no one really has a certain way of solving it yet.

The issue is, everyone says they want to work on it.

As a tech recruiter in a career fair, I may talk to 30+ people an hour. If you are saying the exact same thing as everyone else, it’s going to be hard for that recruiter to remember you. If you express interest in an area that everyone else is also interested in, you are in a larger group of candidates. Recruiters will naturally find a way to shorten the stack of resumes they need to consider to make it managable. Maybe they will exclude base on degree level (in Machine Learning, PhD is starting to be something we look for). Maybe, they will look for super high GPAs. The thing is, you don’t know the criteria, and the only thing you’ve done is lump yourself in the group with everyone else. You aren’t doing anything to give yourself an advantage over other candidates. You want to find a way for the tech person to turn to a recruiter after words asking if they followed up with “that person you remembered had interest in….”

Not all remembering is good. You don’t want to remembered as that person who kept asking the same question for 30 minutes. In general, however, you do want to make a memorable positive impression on the recruiter.

One way to do this is to talk about a specific interest you have that may differenciate you. Lets say you have a strong interest in Human Computer Interaction, and you have done some research on density of information. Distilling your interest and beliefs down to a 30 second talk on the subject may be the ticket to making a positive impression which can help move you along quicker to the next step in the interview process.

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