Business Horizons

Career fairs. There seems to be a new one every day, and everybody suffers them eventually, but they do mark an odd turning point in the life of a student. The first time you step foot into that repurposed, uneasily fluorescent ballroom or gym, the air thick with apprehension, self-doubt and the regret of last night’s Rail, you lose a little bit of who you were seconds before. Until now, you were just a student: Lululemon-laden, coffee-fueled and constantly on the verge of dropping out to pursue a career as a Vine historian.

Now, you have to make yourself known as a capital-P Professional: Your primary language is elevator pitches; your front jacket pocket is never without a fountain pen; your best friends have become your fiercest competition in the name of a steady income and 401k’s. You’re one step closer to becoming the “all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world” Tyler Durden most feared.

Still, even though you’re crammed between blocks of booths with 5,000 other sleep-deprived kids who look like the Slender Man with a newly-grown face and sense of purpose, you’re expected to stand out. What are you supposed to say, that you like photography? You enjoy walks on the beach? You write for the Collegiate Times, as if that’s so impressive?

Lucky for you, I happen to be a master of unique displays of flair, and while some of my methods might require you to “risk it,” you know that at the end of the day, you want that biscuit. So listen to the Biscuit Master, yours truly, and you’ll be sure to drop some jaws at your next career fair.

The best tool in your arsenal? Fake accent. If it worked for Dr. Geller, it will work for you. What screams “hire me” more than the prospect of boasting an employee from a faraway land? This will truly set you apart from the rest when you’re one in a sea of NOVA kids peppering their language with “brick” and “bet” and “Your offices aren’t in Maryland, are they?”

Sure, there will probably be some trial-and-error with this method; you might come to find that one company doesn’t find British people all that interesting, in which case it would best serve you to become a Swede before your next conversation (never mind that you’re an American history major). The more exotic and vague the accent you attempt, the better — nobody’s going to call your bluff if you convince them you’re from Lichtenstein.

Now, if you’re more the type of person who craves the upper hand in a conversation, the clear thing to do is leave your fly unzipped. The most professional interviewers will do their best not to stare, but if you catch them in a situation where you have the ability to say, “Hello, I’m up here!” then the ball is forever in your court. To ensure this exchange will indeed go down, you’ll have to wear the most eye-catching pair of unmentionables your wardrobe has to offer. Bright pink, argyle, patterned with Elmo’s face — your imagination is the limit with this one.

If you don’t necessarily want to subject your interviewer to blood-boiling shame but still would like to give this method a try, I suggest wearing something tailored to your interests. If someone catches sight of a 100-percent-cotton Stormtrooper peering out from below your belt, maybe they’ll ask you what you thought of “The Last Jedi,” and before you know it, you have a new friend.

Now, neither of these ways to make you stand out in an interviewer’s memory will really be of any benefit unless they remember which resume is yours. Means of creating a memorable, eye-popping resume have been all but exhausted, so here it’s best to truly go hard or go home. Make a resume that will really stick with potential employers. And by that, I mean make a resume sticker.

I don’t mean make a letter-sized sticker of your letter-sized resume — that would be ridiculous. Instead, save money and paper by printing teeny-tiny versions of your resume onto 2 by 3 inch stickers, then simply pull the ol’ handshake trick our forefathers would use to bribe the maitre’d, and slap it on an interviewer’s palm when you give him or her a handshake. Bonus points if you pass out complimentary magnifying glasses, which would show vision-impaired booth attendants that you truly do care.

In the professional world, it’s eat or be eaten. And if you’d rather come out of your next job fair enjoying the sweet taste of success, you’re going to have to take some drastic steps. Be bold; be brave; be a Hokie.

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