What to ask job recruiters
February 21, 2012 5:43 PM   Subscribe

Going to a job fair hosted by the local community college next week. My interest is I.T. (Network/Sysadmin, preferably) I'm going to it to gather information on how to get a job, rather than the actual job. What questions should I ask the company reps?

Background info:

The fair is at CCAC South Campus, Pittsburgh. My preferred area of focus in IT is network or system administration.

I am 75% through an associates degree in information technology. I already have an associates in computer aided drafting.

As far as experience goes, I am the typical go-to guy for my friends and coworkers when their computers get a virus, or otherwise screw up. I am currently volunteering with a small IT department at a non-profit. I've been there 6 months. They have me working on figuring out how to deploy Windows 7 to 300+ machines, which is a learning experience to say the least.

I don't see myself as being very employable yet. I finish my degree in the fall, and can hopefully continue to volunteer until then. I'm learning fast, but I have a long way to go. It would be nice if my CADD degree helped me out when looking for IT jobs with architecture or engineering firms.

I would like to ask the recruiters exactly what they are looking for in an entry-level candidate. I worry that I will get a fairly boilerplate response if I phrase the question that way: "Good written and oral communication skills", "ability to handle deadlines" etc.

I suppose the question I really want to ask is "what do I need to do/learn now so that, later on, I'm not wasting your interviewer's time?"

Is there a better way to ask that that would get me a deeper response? Or am I on the right track?
posted by UrbanEye to Work & Money (5 answers total)
Response by poster: The fair is 3 hours long and "Open to all job applicants, especially those interested in employment in the business, accounting, IT & engineering fields" btw.
posted by UrbanEye at 5:44 PM on February 21, 2012

Best answer: Ask them what their hiring process is, when the key times of year are to apply, what sort of resume format they want, can you get their card, find out if they're pr/hr/managers/grunts who do the work, ask them to critique your resume (maybe not to see whether your resume is any good, but to see their thought process for evaluating resumes in general), try to find out which jobs they're having a hard time filling, whether they have a program for new interns that allows an abridgement into full-time employment, how long the hiring process is, etc etc... I never had the nerve for job fairs but they're a great chance to network if you can hack it.
posted by Yowser at 5:55 PM on February 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh, and here's an exercise. Explain how you're deploying Windows 7 to 300 machines, it sounds like you're actually planning a project instead of brute forcing it. Work smart, not hard, etc. How much time(I guess it can't be quantified with money) do you estimate you'll save by your method compared to installing Windows 7 by hand on every machine? How much time/money are you saving for other employees/volunteers? Etc... sounds like you can spin that into a story. I'd avoid getting too technical, it's time to show you can speak business-ease.
posted by Yowser at 6:01 PM on February 21, 2012

It sounds like you're totally on top of this. Yowser had great tips... I'd also ask what their work environment and team dynamic is like. These can help you write your cover letter (to convince them you are a good fit) and decide what attitude to take into an interview. I have hired for technical jobs, and since a lot of candidates have comparable skills, personality / fitting with a team becomes just as important.
posted by beyond_pink at 6:26 PM on February 21, 2012

//I don't see myself as being very employable yet.//

Wrong. You are very employable. 50% of being employed in IT (or anywhere) is knowing where to look to find help on how to do stuff like deploy Win 7 to 300 servers.
posted by COD at 7:41 PM on February 21, 2012

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