What are recruiters really looking for at career fairs?

Here is a running list of recruiters’ suggestions for BYU computer science students.

“Do your homework before coming.” Look at the list of companies attending the fair on Handshake or on the BYU Career Fair Plus App (also has fair floorplan). Learn a little bit about each, and learn what computer scientists do at each. You may even want to choose some “must see” companies. With this background you will be able to ask more educated questions. Recruiters don’t like it when you walk up and say, “I have never heard of [company name]. What is it?” Be sure to download the BYU Career Fair plus app (available on Google Play Store and the App Store) to learn more about which employers are attending.

“Apply online before coming to the fair.” Check out BYU Handshake Job Board to submit a resume before the career fair. You will be more likely to be remembered if this is the second time they have “seen” you.

“Come to the fair early” Most students attend the end of the Technical Career Fair. At the beginning you will have more time with the recruiters, and they will be more likely to remember you.

“Come dressed up.” There is no shame in being overdressed. Your clothing does communicate how serious you are about getting a job or internship, so make sure to dress the part.

“Bring a resume, and make sure it is proofread.” Many recruiters will be interviewing on campus during the week or two after the career fair. Most of these interviews are offered to students who hand resumes to recruiters at the fair.

Also, make sure to proofread your resume. Since it may be impossible to catch all of your own mistakes, it is also a good idea to have someone else look over it. Some recruiters were surprised by the simple grammar and spelling mistakes on some of the resumes they saw at the last career fair. Click here for assistance with creating or reviewing your resume.

“I do not care about your typing speed.” Applying for a computer science job is very different from applying for a job at the local ice cream shop. Put your pertinent CS experience, knowledge, research, projects or interests FIRST on your resume. Your six-month stint as a pizza deliverer is not as important as this information. Recruiters do not need to know how fast you type or that you play the guitar. They want to know what programming languages you have experience with, etc.

“Be assertive.” First impressions really do matter. Shake the recruiter’s hand and introduce yourself. Be confident and look the recruiter in the eye. Tell him or her why you want to work for the company. The recruiters are here to talk to you, so do not be afraid to talk to them. Practice mock interviews before coming to the fair. You can do this online at BYU Bridge, or schedule an appointment at the University Advisement center (WSC 2410).

“Be passionate.” Some companies said that if you’ve gone through your coursework with pretty good grades, they know you can code. Do you love it? Do you have great ideas? Are you passionate about working for a particular company? Let them know. Remember that software, game, website, etc. that you built because you wanted to build it? Talk about it because it shows initiative, and shows that you really do like your major.

“Don’t be afraid to reapply.” Each company has a limited number of positions currently open. If you are not selected right away, it does not mean the company never wants you to work for them. If another position opens up later, most companies will not look at past applicants. If you really want to work for a company, keep applying for positions at that company.

“Do not disregard non-technical companies.” Most companies have positions for computer scientists. Perhaps the computer science job that is “right” for you is not at a software development company. Keep your options open and consider a wide variety of companies.

“If you do not know the programming languages our company uses, you still may be qualified.” Some companies (usually larger companies) do not care if you know their specific language. In fact, some prefer to train you on their language of choice. It just depends on the company.