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Employers @ SI Presentation Etiquette & Tips

This fall has been a busy time for SI Careers in terms of Employer Visits. Already, we've had Autodesk, Yahoo!, Chevron Corporation, and the American Theological Library Association. Many, many more are scheduled to come throughout the rest of October and November. Spring, I have a feeling, will be even more busy.

Since the majority of SI students are not business undergraduates, it's not a surprise that many of the MSI population are not familiar with the actions that you should take at an Employer Presentation in order to make you stand out and to network effectively. See below for tips on how to make the most of Employer Visits and Presentations at SI.

1. Ask questions. Its not uncommon for a visiting employer to ask if there are any questions after a presentation. Personally, I don't mind that there are often only a few questions after my workshops and presentations because I know that you can meet with me anytime you like with questions, but for an employer, its important that you show you are interested and want to learn more about what they have to say. Other than an interview, if you are lucky enough to get one, this is your only chance to ask those burning questions about your potential future employer. Plus, the person that asks intelligent and interested questions is the one that the employer remembers and will be more likely to slate for an interview or report back to the organization about.

Don't know what to ask? Think about the fact that you will spend more time at your job than you will awake at home. I think that that little fact should encourage you to ask questions about how and where you will be spending the majority of your time. See below for suggestions:

• What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this job?
• Who are your main industry competitors?
• What are the company's strengths and weaknesses compared to its competition?
• How important does upper management consider the function of this department/position?
• What is the organization's plan for the next five years, and how does this department fit in?
• Could you explain your organizational structure?
• How will my leadership responsibilities and performance be measured? By whom?
• Could you describe your company's management style and the type of employee who fits well with it?
• What are some of the skills and abilities necessary for someone to succeed in this job?
• What is the company's policy on providing seminars, workshops, and training so employees can keep up their skills or acquire new ones?
• What particular computer equipment and software do you use?
• What kind of work can I expect to be doing the first year?
• What percentage of routine, detailed work will I encounter?
• How much opportunity is there to see the end result of my efforts?
• Who will review my performance? How often?
• How much guidance or assistance is made available to individuals in developing career goals?
• How much opportunity will I have for decision-making in my first assignment?
• Can you describe an ideal employee?
• What is your organization's policy on transfers to other cities?
• What is the recruitment schedule like?
• What sort of questions should I expect an in interview? What sort of skills or abilities will set me apart?
• What freedom would I have in determining my own work objectives, deadlines, and methods of measurement?
• What advancement opportunities are available for the person who is successful in this position, and within what time frame?
• In what ways has this organization been most successful in terms of products and services over the years?
• What significant changes do you foresee in the near future?
• How is one evaluated in this position?

Of course, your own original questions are the best, especially those that show you have done research on the company and demonstrate your sincere interest.

(Questions adapted from Career Services at Virginia Tech and Career Consulting Corner)

2. Turn your computer off. There is nothing more rude than showing up at an employer presentation and visibly (and audibly) typing and burying your nose in your laptop during a presentation. These employers often fly across the country to tell you about their employment opportunities, at great expense, and the least you can do is give them your full attention for an hour.

3. Attend the presentation. Even if the organization isn't recruiting for a position or function that you are interested in, if you are interested in working there, attend the presentation. Meeting with any recruiter or employer is the best way for you to get an "in" to the company. They may not need or specifically want you in their department, but they can go back to their colleagues that might be interested in your skills and tell them about you. It’s also a good way for you to learn some of the insider information about the organization or interviewing that you could not possibly get from any other source. And, you can get a business card to follow-up with and to request for a referral to someone that is in the department or area of your interest.

4. Research the organization. I think that the points that I stated above should give reason why this is important. Research helps you ask more intelligent and directed question, shows the recruiter or presenter that you have initiative, and it will give you a foundation to the information in the presentation so that all of the information that is provided isn't overwhelming. Research will help you make a more educated decision on whether or not the company is a good fit for you.

5. Lastly... don't let the presentation make or break your impression of the company. Sometimes, presenters aren't the best seller of their own company. Personally, I'm a bit mystified by the lack of presentation skills of presenting employers but still, it’s important to look beyond the recruiters' presentation abilities and see if the values, function, and career opportunities from this organization are ideal for you. Focus on the content and not the presenter, as they are often only one in several thousand employees! Luckily, this isn't usually the case, and often the representatives from the company that come to SI do a terrific job of selling their organization, which in the end, only makes it harder for you to make a decision!

If you have questions, don't hesitate to contact me. ~ Kelly

Posted by kkowatch at October 16, 2007 10:00 AM

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