How to Extend Your Job Search Beyond the College Career Fair

by Alan J. McMillan | February 15, 2017

  • My Vault

Students on campus are surrounded by many events and opportunities to find employment through internships and/or full time jobs. These fall into the category of the "physical" job search, which includes events and contacts that you can physically engage with to find an opportunity.

Your campus job search is the only one in your career where the employers come to you—lose your job three years out of college and employers don't rush to your garage and set up a job fair. At that juncture, it is on you to find opportunities. So engaging beyond the typical physical campus events will allow you to hone the critical skills necessary to be great at job searching over the course of your career.

Not too long ago, I met with a college student talking about the jobs he was considering and I quickly realized that every opportunity he was speaking about was from companies who were recently at the campus job fair.

The problem with limiting your thinking like this, as many do, is that 200-300 companies might attend that event over your college years, yet in America there are 27.9 million small business and 18,500 firms with 500 or more employees. So it is wise to expand your reach to organizations beyond those who visit campus, through the virtual job search, as well. 

The Physical Job Search
i.e. A contact or event on campus that leads you to opportunity. Examples include:

  • Career fairs
  • Posted interviews (at your college or career center)
  • Lists of upcoming visits from hiring companies interviewing for internships and/or jobs
  • Professors or advisors who lead you to opportunity
  • Student groups and clubs who bring in hiring companies
  • People you know and interact with who can lead you to opportunity

The Virtual Job Search
i.e. Reaching out beyond campus and seeking opportunities that you currently don't know about. Ways to do that include:

  • Proactively reaching out to your network where they can introduce you to opportunity
  • A series of 'informational interviews' where you reach out and have meetings with those who can help you to determine if an industry, job role, or company is a fit for you and in the process discover more employment opportunities
  • Joining a LinkedIn group where people who are doing or hiring in an area you are interested are, and then proactively reach out to them
  • Search both company and job search websites for open positions, then network your way in—getting actual contacts within the company gives you a much higher chance of success than simply filling out an application.
  • Engage with job/intern-search websites for opportunity and reconnaissance—like Vault.

Here at LearnEarnRetire, we will dig into more details on strategy, techniques and processes in each of these categories, but for now challenge yourself to reach out to organizations and individuals who you do not know and expand your career horizon. You are not limited to those who come to you; rather, you can get more choices and expand your search.

A version of this post previously appeared on LearnEarnRetire.

Filed Under: Education | Interviewing | Job Search | Networking

Tags: career fair

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