I have been receiving many questions on how to best approach the career fair. Below is an excerpt from my Big 4 Hiring Guide book that I like to all "Career Fair 101.":
On the day of the career fair the recruiters from the Big 4 will be inundated by you and everyother accounting student in your class. You have two goals. First, you must make yourselfknown to the recruiters and obtain at least one business card. Second, you must manage notto give the wrong impression or you will risk your resume being "accidentally left behind."
Below are the 5 steps to make sure that you achieve both these goals. Note that these tips canbe applied to any casual interaction with Big 4 staff.
1) Approach with Ease - Typically there is some sort of receiving line where you will wait yourturn to speak to the recruiter. Don't be nervous! The Big 4 purposely send their friendliest andmost inviting staff to these events, so this is not the place to be intimidated. When it isyour turn, shake hands with the recruiter and greet them with a smile. Introduceyourself firmly and hand them a copy of your resume.
2) Do your homework - Big 4's meet and greet so many students that think that they want acareer in public accounting but don't know why. You should know why a career in accounting is right for you and express that to the recruiter. Rather than simply saying "I want to be an accountant," add some more information.
For example, "I am interested inauditing public companies and gaining experience with SEC clients." By letting them know thatyou understand their business, at least to some degree, you will separate yourself from thoseindividuals who simply crave the Big 4 name on their resume.
3) Ask a Good Question - After showing that you have a head on your shoulders, wow themagain with a great question. People love to talk about themselves, recruiters included. Ask asincere question such as "If you could offer me one piece of advice to be successful with(Insert Company) what would it be." This will get them talking, thereby increasing yourface time, and will show them that you value their input and advice. Further, they willsubconsciously feel a vested interest in your success, as they have shared their advice, andwill be more likely to put in a good word for you when they submit their resumes to their boss.
4) Keep it Brief - After a brief discourse it is best to be on your way. You do not want to bethat guy (or girl) that stands around yapping for an hour, wasting everyone’s time (and thereis always one). This will NOT leave a good impression. You are there to put your face toyour resume and leave on a positive note. Once you've completed this there is no use taking therisk of saying something stupid.
5) Take a Business Card - As you leave, ask the recruiter for a card. Begin building ahorde of these as they will be invaluable in the future. The contacts you meet at the career fair are excellent resources to bounce questions off in the future. They are typically not thesame staff you will interview with and can be a valuable source of candid advice.
Repeat for all Big 4 Companies present.
Follow these five steps and you will be sure to leave a great impression and have your foot onestep farther in the door!
To learn more about the Big 4 hiring process, please check out my website, Big4Guru.com, and my book, Big 4 Hiring Guide. If you're not ready to buy, grab a copy of the completely FREE eBook, The Interview!
Big 4 Guru