By Sandi Ohman
The Industry/Career Expo is around the corner – October 3 (Prescott, AZ) and October 9 (Daytona Beach, FL) will be here soon! There are 80+ companies that have registered to attend the events, to date. Attendees won’t speak to every company that attends, but hopefully, they will speak to at least one or more exhibitors. First impressions are so important, and a bad first impression is hard to overcome. From the attire, overall neat and professional appearance, recruiters begin to form initial impressions; once conversation begins, impressions begin to solidify.
An informal survey of recruiters who attended the Industry/Career Expo in the past indicated that the following top areas stood out and made impressions:
- The student has knowledge about the company and knows a few specific facts
- The student knows what they want to do for that specific company, or at least has an idea
- Ability to carry on a conversation with the recruiter – has satisfactory communication skills
- Has a good introduction
- The student knows their strengths and interests
- The students have a true passion for their career interest
- The student has a good attitude and shows confidence – whether real or not
- The student is prepared – research, resume, note pad to take notes
- Well groomed and dresses appropriately for the event, a good handshake, makes eye contact and smiles
- The student has strong academics
Notice the theme of these responses is preparation oriented – either dress and appearance or communication. Elements of the Elevator Speech can help attendees be prepared to communicate well with recruiters. The elements are Know Your Audience and Know Yourself. After you prepare these elements, organize your Elevator Speech into a quick, direct introduction that covers who you are, what you want and what you can offer.
Know Your Audience
Knowing your audience for Expo requires researching the companies that are attending. Look at the current positions on their websites, any job postings in EagleHire Network, and what positions they are recruiting for at the Industry/Career Expo. It is hard to find out the names/titles of the recruiters who will be attending ahead of time, since those attendees can change the day before or even the day of the event. Many times alumni of ERAU attend the Expo event as recruiters for their employers. Look for alumni pins on the recruiters’ collars or name tags as a quick sign that they are alumni. You may want to ask them about their experiences and career paths taken after they graduated from ERAU.
Know your strengths, how you would describe yourself (creative, energetic, flexible, motivated, etc.), why you are interested in this industry/company/position, and what you can offer the company.
As the speech is developed, it is important to write the points down and even to write out the few sentences to make sure they flow well. Memorize the lines. Be sincere, conversational and natural, while still being organized, prepared and rehearsed. Practice the elevator speech out loud, projecting passion and interest, and talking at an average speed. This will ensure effective communication. Remember every conversation will not go exactly as rehearsed, so know when to change directions to follow the flow of the conversation.
Making eye contact with the recruiter, while not staring them down, is important since it conveys truthfulness. Examples or a quick story worked into the Elevator Speech give credibility and content for the recruiter to direct questions. The final part is to end the interaction with an action call – ask for a business card, a review of the resume, or an interview, if appropriate timing.
Check out the CareerSpot Video on the Elevator Speech for more information and for an example.
Sandi Ohman is the Senior Program Manager in the Career Services Office at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She has been with the university for over 9 years and has advised students in most all degree areas while in Career Services. Sandi brings additional experience having worked in the finance industry for over 6 years in her previous career. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida, and her Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Central Florida.