This year, we have had the opportunity to attend a few premedical conferences. They’re always wonderful events and the excitement of the students is palpable. One of my favorite things to do at these conferences is to take note of the students who stand out above the rest. I always ask myself, what is it about that student that made him or her stand out among several hundred other students? Why is it that I will actually remember that particular student, but will forget most of the rest. After attending such conferences for over a decade now, I know what the answer is. The memorable students are the ones who came to the recruitment fairs prepared! The entire purpose of recruitment is to build relationships. Well, it’s pretty tough to do that if the recruiters won’t remember you. Here are three tips to ensure you make a lasting first impression at recruitment fairs.
- Hand out your business cards. There is a very good reason why CEOs and Presidents carry business cards. They know not everyone will remember them, so they make it easy for them by giving them a small piece of paper with their name and basic information. This is networking 101, you have to carry business cards working to build a professional relationship with people you are meeting for the first time. On the flipside, also be sure to ask others for their business cards so you can remember them. Here’s a little trick I learned way back when. Immediately after getting someone’s business card, write something down to help you remember them. For example, if the person is a Duke basketball fan, write that down on the card.
- Ensure that your resume or curriculum vitae is up to date and available. This is another essential to ensuring people remember you. Students who have organized and presentable resumes or CVs are considered impressive. This is true because a great many premedical students haven’t even made their resume or CV. At a recruitment fair, you want the recruiters to know you are among these impressive students. In the past, some students would carry their resume with them at the fairs. While this is still a good thing to do in many instances, it is not as powerful anymore given sites such as PreMed StAR that allow you to keep an online profile which you can share with recruiters. The important thing to note here is that you should maintain an updated resume or CV. When speaking with recruiters, be sure to tell them you would like to share your resume/CV and if they are open to that, find a way to get it to them.
- Send follow up emails. Again, this is networking 101 but you would be surprised how many students actually do it. The answer is not many. I meet countless premeds throughout the year in various arenas, many who desire mentorship or other opportunities. The conversation typically ends with them saying, “I’m definitely going to email you Dr. Dale. I really appreciate it!” What percentage do you think actually email? I’d say less than 10. Keep this is statistic mind when networking with medical school recruiters. If you remember to send them a quick thank you email, you’ll be among the few and might end up on their short list of recruits!
Many premeds have the wrong understanding of what a recruitment fair should be. For most, recruitment fairs turn into informational fairs. As a premedical student, you want to do everything you can in order to stack the deck in your favor so you not only get into medical school, but you get into the school of your choice. Following the three tips above will put you one step ahead of the crowd! This is your first impression and you need to make it count. Smile, have a firm handshake, and execute on the tips above!
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