A step in the right direction

(Edmonton) Joan Schiebelbein, director of CAPS: Your U of A Career Centre , the career placement services centre at the University of Alberta, has some advice for students planning on attending tomorrow’s Careers Day: do your homework.

With 230 employers setting up shop in tomorrow’s event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Butterdome, Schiebelbein says that students would be well advised to see who is attending and make a list of the companies and agencies they most want to talk to. Knowing something about the company is always a good idea, she says, but communicating to the employer what they want to know about the organization is crucial.

“We suggest that they ask about career paths within an organization,” she said. “Not just about what jobs do they have available now, but what kinds of opportunities exist for people that stay with the organization for the long term.”

Asking about industry trends and forecasts is important as well, she notes. Finding out whether the company is growing or expanding beyond its existing locations are also good questions that will help build rapport with the representative and should be referred to when applying to that company as well. “Making that personal connection is vital,” said Schiebelbein.

She notes that students have greater exposure to employers than their counterparts of 20 years ago did. Back then, she said, the first career fair on campus was held in Dinwoodie Lounge with about 40 employers in attendance. Even compared to last year’s event with roughly 200 employers, the increasing number of attendees is one of a number of good signs for students scoping out employment opportunities.

“Our jobs postings are up this year over last, the number of employers coming to information sessions and students attending are up,” Schiebelbein said. “We saw a bit of a dip for a couple of years, but now we’re back on the upswing.”

With representative from government, industry and non-profit organizations, this multidisciplinary career fair does have something to offer students from every faculty. And by researching the companies and pre-planning which employers student job seekers most would like to talk to, Schiebelbein says students can put together a more effective search strategy.

Though students may be tempted to print off dozens of fresh resumes for the event, Schiebelbein says a business card, such as one that the career centre offers to student job seekers free of charge, is a more practical piece of paper to put in the hands of potential employers.

“Students can bring their resume, but should only give it out if they’re asked for it,” she said. “Employers are not there to collect resumes, they’re there more to answer students’ questions, and put faces to names. That’s why the business cards are nice as they’re easier to carry than a stack of resumes.”