With a 9.1 percent unemployment rate across the state, students will have the opportunity to get a start on their careers before graduation by attending the Career Fair Oct. 6 in the RUC.
92 companies are scheduled to attend the fair and registration is ongoing. Career Services staff said they hope match or even exceed last year’s number of 97 participating companies.
“These employers are committing to come to Tennessee Tech in austere financial times to be sure they are hiring the best of the best, and that’s what Tennessee Tech offers,” Lynn Haley, assistant director of Career Services, said.
Haley said that it’s important for students to visit the career fair.
Joe Johnson, human resource coordinator for Lennox International, said that the economy has been hard on their company. When the slump hit them, hiring new employees was the one thing taken out of their budget. The company has not been to a career fair in more than two years.
“If you read the headlines, there’s a bad job market out there,” Gene Crabtree, recruiter for 21st Mortgage Corp., said. “Personally, I don’t believe it. I believe there’s always a place for well-qualified people.”
Haley said the career fair is an indicator of how the economy is affecting jobs.
“We had 97 employers who came to career day last year. We are at 92, that is exceptionally strong numbers for a career fair,” she said.
There are 16 employers who are accepting resumes in advance of the fair, and there are about 18 employers staying after the fair is over in order to conduct interviews.
Haley said that employers expect students to have done their homework and to be able to recognize who the company is and what the company does.
She said one of the most common mistakes students make when attending a career fair is the attire they wear.
“If you show up next week at the job fair in tennis shoes, blue jeans and a white T-shirt on, we’re probably not going to be interested in offering you a professional job,” Crabtree said.
Acceptable attire for men would be a pair of khakis or dress pants, a dress shirt, a tie and dress shoes, or a suit.
Women should wear a conservative skirt or dress pants, with a conservative shirt, light perfume, and minimum jewelry.
“You only get one chance to make a good first impression,” Crabtree said.
“And at job fairs, even if you are a freshmen or sophomore, you should still come to all the job fairs you can for practice, so when it becomes a real critical thing to do in your job search, you already know how it works.”
There are some employers who will hire students from any majors, and then there are others who are looking for specific majors.
Haley said students should investigate companies to find out about the company and any potential job openings, regardless of the major that particular company is seeking.
“Every student from every major should come to every fair we offer, because you don’t know what opportunities will be available to you there,” Haley said.
Crabtree said that he can’t stress the importance of all majors attending job fairs.
Companies will be looking to hire students for full-time jobs, co-op positions and internships.
“The idea for a job fair is to connect students with employers that are looking to hire and encourage them to apply so they kind of get in the pipeline,” Crabtree said.
Haley said that in the past, companies have hired students on the spot, but it is rare for a company to do so. The companies usually get to know students and then ask them back for an interview, where they go through several interview processes.
Haley said that companies stress the importance of good communication skills in those they would like to hire.
“We are a lot more worried about the kind of person they are than what they know how to do, because we are going to show them what they need to know how to do,” Crabtree said.
Crabtree said that he tells students that they are not going to career fairs to find a job, but instead, they are attending to find interviews.
“I can’t emphasize that enough, the difference between a student that went to Career Services, took the coaching, let them proof their resumes, all those kinds of things they’ll do for you, and the ones that didn’t,” Crabtree said. “There’s a big divide between those two, and the ones that did are two steps ahead.”
Crabtree said that it’s not how Tech students compare to other schools.
It’s more about how those who used career services compare to those who didn’t. He said it’s obvious to the employers who utilized the services offered on campus.
Both Career Services and employers said that students should be prepared with professional resumes and skills.
“Have a beautiful, perfect resume, multiple copies of that resume,” Haley said. “Target who you wish to speak with, have an introduction of what you offer and what you are looking for with that employer and get that contact information whenever possible.”
For more information on the employers who are attending the Career Fair, visit www.tntech.edu/ career/home/.