By Maureen Drum Fagin, Director of Career Services

This fall, ICE hosted the biggest career fair in our 39-year history. Employers from virtually every sector of the food and hospitality industry were on hand, hungry to fill their openings with fresh talent from our kitchens and classrooms. Among the participating employers were industry leaders Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, Great Performances, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Craft Restaurant Group, Jean Georges’ Spice Market, Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, Union Square Hospitality Group and many more.

The event is an incredible resource for our students and alumni, but—like any networking event—you get out what you put in. Here are ICE’s top tips for mastering any job fair:

1.  Do your homework. There’s nothing more flattering to an employer than a student who approaches their recruiting table referencing a recent review in the Times or an upcoming restaurant launch mention in Eater. Want to work for Union Square Hospitality Group? If you devoured Danny Meyer’s Setting the Table in one sitting, then make that known—it’s a surefire way to have your résumé rise to the top of the stack.

2. Perfect your résumé. The day of the career fair is not the time to revise your work history. Leave ample time for ICE Career Services staff or an eagle-eyed friend to review and proofread your résumé. On the day of the event, print out more copies than you think you’ll need. Nothing is worse than giving out your last copy…and then spotting your dream employer across the room.

3. Come up with a social strategy. If you’re a bit on the shy side, build confidence by gradually working your way up to your top choice employer. That way, you’ve tested your pitch on a few other companies and have shaken off most of your nervous energy.

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4. Don’t underestimate first impressions. Don’t forget to smile, give a firm handshake and make direct eye contact. Your appearance should be professional and neat. Leave the strong perfume, heavy make-up and showy jewelry at home. These are all distractions to a recruiter—make sure they remember you for your personality and résumé, not your flashy outfit.

5. Follow through. Networking doesn’t end when the fair is over. Review your notes from the event and follow up with the employers that interested you most—that will send a clear signal to the recruiter that you remain eager about the opportunity. Sending a “thank you” email also shows attention to detail and opens a line of communication. And if you were lucky enough to land an interview or trail at the event, be sure to arrive punctually or reschedule well in advance of the meeting.

6. Remember, the industry is smaller than you think. Each connection and conversation you made that day should be viewed as an opportunity, whether it pays off immediately or further down the road.

Looking for more advice on advancing your career? Click here.

 

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