Editorial: Interpersonal skills still dominate job hunt

Editorial Board

If you’re looking for something to do on campus this week, don’t worry.  There are at least two career fairs we know of happening this week.  Tuesday will be the Engineering Career Fair from noon to 6 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum and the Scheman Building.  Wednesday will see the Business, Industry and Technology Career Fair will be from noon to 6 p.m., also at Hilton.

There will be additional career fairs to come later, too.  Ag Career Day will be Oct. 16, and the new People to People Internship and Career Fair will be in February.

Part of connecting with professionals in your desired field and mingling with them consists of — in the present digital age of smartphones and ever-present Internet connectivity — social media.  

The general consensus is that social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and other sites more specifically designed for professionals, such as LinkedIn, are very useful for connecting with prospective employers and industry stalwarts.

But as nice as the ability to “meet” new people who might be able to give you a job someday — or at the very least help you find one — in an online world is, it is far better to take the time to don a suit or elegant, yet modest dress, and print off a few resumes on paper that weighs more than the stuff in a computer lab.

There are no second chances at first impressions and, although the popularity of digital communication is unparalleled, there is nothing more professional than demonstrating your ability to dress for a career, interact with your future bosses using the etiquette of that occupation, and showing that you are indeed a human being and not just a picture on a social media site.

As helpful as working with people over the Internet is and as helpful as it is to give them an opportunity to see your work and stand out, it is our ability to shake hands with a person, look him or her squarely in the eye, and say, “Hello, my name is So-and-So,” without an “um,” “ah” or “like” that distinguishes us.

The tone we use when we talk, eye contact, posture, facial expressions and countless other aspects of our presentation come under scrutiny when we talk to others.  

Face-to-face interaction isn’t dead even now when the Internet reaches so many people.  It is more important than ever.

It would be a shame if the only people going to this week’s career fairs (and the later ones, too) were only doing so because they’ll graduate in December and May and are behind in their job search.  

Whether you are a super-senior or a freshman, career fairs are an important opportunity to practice professionalism.