Recruiting Conferences

MBA Veterans Conference picked a great venue!
MBA Veterans Conference picked a great venue!

  Wow, it’s already been a week since I was in Chicago for the 2014 MBA Veterans Conference, but it still feels like yesterday!  It was great practice going into our on-campus Fall Career Forum as well.  If you still haven’t gone to a hiring conference or recruiting event/career fair, here are some of my personal lessons learned and some helpful advice I’ve gathered from other folks:

  1. Try the Wall Street Journal Test to understand where your passions lie.
  2. Make an interview roadmap.  It’s up to you to chart the course and direction of the interview, so make sure you communicate the most important and relevant aspects of your experience.
  3. Have a 30-second version and 3-minute version of your stories/experiences. 
  4. Highlight your leadership experiences where you influenced without formal authority (i.e. thought leadership, influenced senior management) and techniques you used (coaching, mentoring, emergent/transformational leadership).  This is critical for veterans to address.
  5. Practice your 30 second elevator pitch.  Then bring it down to under 10 seconds for these conferences.  They’ll ask if they want to hear more about your experience.
  6. Recruiters are people, too.  Put yourself in their shoes:  they might have just flown in on a redeye flight, lugged their huge display stand to the venue, spent half an hour setting it up, and the conference organizers didn’t think to give them any coffee or food.  This might be the 14th conference or hiring event they’ve been to in the last week.  Give them the benefit of the doubt!
  7. Get business cards – at a minimum you should use them to contact people and thank them for their time.  I didn’t do this enough and I really regret it!
  8. Be open to exploration!  It’s really easy to get ‘locked in’ to a handful of companies that you are really interested in, but if you limit yourself you might miss out on meeting some amazing people and organizations that are a better fit for you.
  9. Don’t worry if you didn’t get an interview.  It’s early!
  10. Also, don’t worry if you didn’t get invited to the ‘extra special’ bonus networking event!  There’s plenty of time to meet companies and people at these conferences.
  11. If you’re not willing to relocate, then it’s probably not worth your time or money to attend a national recruiting conference.
  12. Get to know your fellow conference-goers!  Or at the very least, be friendly to them.  You might be working with some of them someday, or they might be that multi-million dollar client or customer!

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