Five tips for CompanyDating

Here are five useful tips for anyone wanting to impress potential employers and generate interest among the companies taking part in CompanyDating.

1: Find out what they need
When we are trying to make a good impression on other people, we tend to talk a lot about ourselves and what we can offer. But if you want to make a good impression on a potential employer, the best trick in the book is to get them to talk about their own needs first. Then you can talk about yourself and your qualifications in relation to these needs.

In other words, we’re all a bit like Winnie-the-Pooh: the stories we like best are stories about ourselves. The same thing is true of potential employers. So try and find out what they’re looking for, and prepare a few questions to find out what they need. For instance: “What do you look for in potential new colleagues?” “How would you describe the way you work?” “What are your core services?” …

2: Show them that you are what they need
Once you know what they’re looking for and what they (think they) need, and once you know what kind of terminology they use, you’re ready to impress them.

Show them that you are the perfect match for their organisation by showing them that you are uniquely equipped to meet their needs. Prepare a few good examples to show how you normally work as a student, in paid employment etc. It’s also a good idea to prepare some good examples of ways in which you have learned to work during your degree programme (both in general and specifically). Don’t fall into the “I can multitask” trap. All academics can multitask. So what marks you out from the pack? What’s the thing about you that they will remember? A job, a case, or an assignment you have written?

3: Think about your body language
Body language is important, and we can easily spot anyone who is behaving in an unnatural manner. Normal behaviour when you’re talking to someone is to stand with your weight balanced equally on both legs, your hands in front of you, and looking at your audience occasionally (but not all the time). Try observing the next conversation you have while standing in a queue in the cafeteria, or when talking to another member of your study Group.

Good behaviour when you’re listening to someone involves looking at them all the time, reflecting their body language (standing in roughly the same way as them), and nodding your head or saying “mmm” every now and then to show that you’re listening and keeping up. You will probably need to do some talking AND listening at Company Dating. So find out how you behave in a normal conversation. Then you’ll know what to do when you meet a potential employer and suddenly can’t remember what your hands should be doing.

4: Keep your head up, and smile
When you visit a stand you’re really interested in and start to feel nervous, try not to make your body small. Powerful people adopt a broad pose – so keep your chest out and your head held high. And if you discover that you’re standing there with your legs and arms crossed, just uncross them and carry on. The effort you make to remember your questions and examples might make you look a bit too serious. Smile and practise giving a firm handshake.

5: Keep in touch
If you want to keep in touch after your conversation is over, it’s up to you to make this happen. Don’t rely on them contacting you – you’ll end up staring at your phone constantly until they call. It’s up to you to take the next step. Arrange to call them on Monday, or send them your CV. You’ll be showing initiative, and you can contact them again to ask for a reply. This will not be possible if you leave it up to them to make the next move.

By Linda Greve
MA (Theology), PhD in corporate communication, and author of Den gode præsentation and other publications.