Ways to Stand out During the Recruiting Cycle

Congratulations! A new semester has started and you are excited to be back on campus. You are eager to reconnect with friends and begin your classes, but the stressful recruiting cycle is looming ahead of you. It’s time to dust-off your resume and ensure it is ready for the upcoming career fairs. Here are a few tips to help you stand-out amongst your peers:

Gain Experiences Outside of the Classroom – While your GPA is important, it is generally not the most important factor recruiters consider. Explore experiential learning opportunities and ways to get involved outside of the classroom. In particular, focus on these three areas:

  • Leadership – (Spoiler alert …. this is the most important one!) With 1,000+ student organizations, there is something for everyone at Penn State. Pick a few groups that interest you, get involved as a member, then earn leadership roles. Smeal student organizations are a wonderful way to get involved in major-related groups, general interest clubs, business fraternities, diversity-focused organizations and service-oriented clubs.
  • Internships – Start your research early and identify areas of interest. Apply for roles that may be a good fit and will help you work towards your career goals. Target a summer internship after your sophomore and junior years. Explore part-time, on campus internship opportunities to help you gain new skills throughout the year.
  • Global Experience – Studying or interning abroad is a fantastic way to gain cultural awareness, explore new perspectives and build independence. The skills you develop living abroad help you demonstrate resilience and leadership in the workplace. Familiarize yourself with Smeal’s Office of International Programs, key dates and helpful resources.

Be Prepared – A lot of time and hard work goes into preparing for the recruiting cycle, so it’s important to understand the timeline, expectations for you as a student and how to get ready. Here are a few tips:

  • Do your Research – A great place to start is researching which career fairs will take place. Be selective about which to attend and work your planned visit around your class schedule. Research the companies attending ahead of time, and understand which positions interest you the most. Career Fairs can be crowded, so it is best to come with a plan for which booths you want to visit and prepare targeted questions.
  • Create or Fine-Tune your Resume and Cover Letter – Most recruiters only scan your resume for 30-seconds. Make it concise and easy to read. Explore resume templates and sample cover letters to find the one that works best for you.
  • Dress Appropriately – Students should wear business professional attire for career fairs and interviews. Business casual is typically acceptable for networking events, information sessions and other professional development activities. Reference what to wear for additional guidance or explore Penn State’s professional attire closet.
  • Practice your Elevator Pitch and Interview Responses – Craft a 30-second overview that highlights who you are, your semester standing & major, your career goals, your achievements and why you are interested in the role. Practice several times with peers and customize your pitch for each company. Take advantage of the Business Career Center’s interview advice and practice resources.
  • Follow-Up – A short thank you note goes a long way whether you are following-up with a recruiter that you met at a recruiting event or thanking an interviewer. This helps you differentiate yourself from your peers and reiterate your interest in the position. Take a few minutes to give yourself a competitive edge!

Finding an internship or full-time job opportunity can be stressful, but by following these tips, you will position yourself for success. Still not sure where to start? Check out the vast library of Smeal resources, the Smeal career timeline checklist and/or schedule a 1:1 advising appointment with the Business Career Center.

By Marissa Presser
Marissa Presser Senior Managing Consultant