Asia is one of the AlphaSights Recruitment Team’s first stop in the 2014/2015 season, as we kick off September attending the Hutchinson House’s Hong Kong Careers Fair. September is right around the corner, so now is probably a good moment to give you some tips on how to present yourself to us and any other potential employers attending these type of events.
Relax. You shouldn’t treat these events as a first round interview at which you have to show off your knowledge of our business and try to secure a position right from the onset. Take the chance to learn a little more about what we do and how we do it. Determine whether it’s something that you would actually enjoy and if the people you’re talking with would be people you want to spend large chunks of time around.
Prepare. Having said that, it’s a smart idea to recognise that the people you’re meeting may well be those who interview you later (or at the very least they will be asked for opinions), so it would be advisable to at least know broadly what the business does and have some thoughts about how you’d explain your initial interest.
Feign ignorance and ask smart questions. Preparing to meet a potential employer by studying their business is great, but if there is one thing that I would recommend in these situations, it’s to know more than you let on to the people you’re meeting and then re-deploy that asset in asking some smart questions. This creates the impression - and hopefully reflects reality - that you’re not just an absorber of information, but actually someone who can redeploy what they’ve learnt quickly and effectively. It demonstrates intellect but also engagement with what the other person is communicating to you. It’s a proxy for creativity as well as independence of both thought and action. These qualities are like gold dust for recruiters and exactly the kind of thing that will allow you to stand out from the crowd.
Distinguish yourself. Quite frankly, good academics and a couple of internships are qualifying criteria to come to most of these events, but their existence alone is definitely not enough to differentiate you from all the other thousands of attendees. You have to make yourself stand out by being able to take those experiences and explain how they demonstrate that you’re the kind of person that would solve your potential employer’s problems.
Emerge from the crowd. Don’t schlep around these things in gangs. Groups of people are difficult to address and you also run the risk of being made to look irrelevant by your noisy mate. However, there are a lot of people at these events and you’ll often end up having conversations in groups. Take advantage of this not by dominating the conversation, but by bringing others into the discussion and therefore showing what a natural team player you are.
Be comfortable. Dress neatly, and within reason, there is something to be said for wearing something distinctive to help people remember you, but I certainly wouldn’t suggest going full Gordon Gekko. Shoulder pads and pinstripes look kind of ridiculous in this context.