Navigating On-Campus Recruiting
“Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”–Will Rogers
When you’ve decided you want to make it official and go for an actuarial career, you’re likely still in college, still juggling all kinds of balls in the air with various exams, both actuarial and non-actuarial, and you come across an opportunity to attend an actuarial career fair. All of a sudden, here’s a new ball added, because now’s your opportunity to make yourself known to the companies at the fair, right?
But you’ve got all this other stuff going on. Today’s post is about navigating that new ball court: on-campus recruiting.
Destination of this Journey
The two main destinations of this journey are:
- Knowing how to create a lasting impression during on-campus recruiting events.
- Knowing how to approach three of the most common recruiting scenarios with confidence.
The Interview Has Already Begun
The quote by Will Rogers makes complete sense in this first part of your journey. You’ve done all this stuff towards your decision and/or goal of becoming an actuary, and you’ve even got a resume created and ready to hand out just in case.
The thing is, it’s not just about passing out your resume and just expecting something to happen because everything on there is so fantastic. To put Will Rogers’ quote into the current context: Don’t rest on your “resume’ laurels.”
When you go to an actuarial career fair, people are already taking note of what you do and how you interact with others. Recruiters are sizing you up to see if you’d be a good team player, have good oral communication skills, etc. Yes, your goal is to eventually score an interview, but at this point, you really need to let your personal brand shine.
Be the authentic you.
Don’t “take on airs,” so to speak and try to be someone you’re not. If you’re more or less laid back, even when others around you are more serious and solemn, don’t worry about trying to be like them. If that’s not who you really are, why try to mimic that?
In short, let your skills shine, because at this point, you and everyone else are on the same page. Keep in mind also that the interview process is a two-way street. While you are hoping to achieve the ultimate goal of scoring an interview, let alone a full-time position, don’t take the trouble of applying at a specific company if you don’t see yourself working there.
If you don’t feel like you fit someplace, look for another company that gets your juices flowing and your blood pumping.
Three Main Recruiting Events
There are often three main recruiting events in the process of eventually being hired as an actuary:
- Career Fairs—which were mentioned just briefly already.
- Info Session/Event.
- Coffee Chat.
Bringing Your “A” Game to Career Fairs
Now, the purpose of the career fair, ultimately, is to help you figure out what you really want to do, how you want to do it, and what kind of company you really want to be a part of.
Career fairs are, as recruiting events go, the least targeted and the least focused, as far as asking and answering questions are concerned. So this is where you get a chance to bring your “A” game, to start on the right foot, so to speak, and leave a truly meaningful impression.
Let them see you, let them interact with you. Use that as a stepping stone to an info session. Be authentic with this, though, even as you bring your resume and plant the seed for an info session.
Distinguish Yourself At Info Sessions
In contrast to a career fair, the next step, the info session, which is a bit like the info-gathering sessions talked about in a previous post, is a smaller, more target group. This group is often hosted by one company or within a specific industry, such as, say, life insurance or another actuarial field entirely.
When you go into these info sessions, be engaged and be engaging. Once more, put your personal brand out there. Let them see what you’re about—in a more professional manner, of course, but still, be authentic. Remember that your interactions with other candidates will be noted, especially if you build on other people, rather than stepping on others.
Showing you’re a team player by building others up even while you’re attempting to make a good first impression. In fact, building others up will make a good first impression about your ability to be a team player.
For example, if you hear someone say something, and you want to add to it, you might say something like: “So-n-So has a good point, and I want to add onto that by saying X-Y-Z.” That is definitely going to get you noticed in a good way.
Also, keep the phrase “quality over quantity” in mind. Instead of going around talking to everyone, make it a point to connect well with one or two specific people. This shows you’re serious and not just bouncing around aimlessly.
On the flip side, if you’ve gained an audience with a speaker, be mindful of the speaker’s goals, and don’t monopolize their time.
All this being said, you don’t have to be good in groups to make a good, lasting impression. You can “make your mark” in a different way, perhaps by how you follow-up on your initial contact by sending an email that makes you stand out.
The third type of recruiting session is the briefest of them all: a short 1-on-1 session that likely only lasts about 15-20 minutes. This is not a “coffee interview” or “coffee Q&A,” but a coffee chat. It should be conversational like an info session, but will be briefer.
It’s likely you’ll be talking with a specific person from a company this time around, but keep in mind that the kind of questions you ask will depend on where they are in the company.
A person who’s only been a year on the job might not be able to answer certain questions perhaps as in depth as a longtime senior analyst. So ultimately, try to identify where they are in the company and tailor the conversation points.
Once you’ve had any and every one of these experiences, follow up every time with a “nice to meet you email,” which is always a tasteful opportunity to build a relationship with the people you’ve already made contact with—especially when you touch on the key points of the conversations you’ve had.
Keep in mind, however, that the people that you meet during on-campus recruiting events may or may not be the ones making the hiring decisions. That being said, they may not be in that position, but maybe they can recommend you to someone in their company, or at the very least, point you in the right direction.
You’ve Reached Your Destination
So, to recap:
- During on-campus recruiting events, you have the chance to create a lasting impression with the recruitment people you meet.
- You’ve learned how to approach three different types of on-campus recruiting scenarios—the career fair, the info session and the coffee chat–with confidence, building the best practices, the best tools to go in your “toolkit.”
Remember, as you work through this part of your journey, be authentic and let your personal brand shine through.
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Let us know in the comments below – Which one of these principles do you think would be the best for you to focus on for the next month?