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How to Impress Recruiters at the National Security Career Fair

By Ann Eastham, Career Services, American Military University

Are you looking for a career in intelligence or national security? On August 25, American Military University is hosting a virtual career fair (VCF) for students interested in careers in homeland security, intelligence, cybersecurity, international relations and other related fields. This career fair gives students an opportunity to meet directly with employers from some of the most desirable employers within the intelligence community (IC).

[Related: Virtual Career Fairs: An Effective Recruiting Tool for the IC]

But to build successful relationships with recruiters, you need to be prepared. Recruiters know when you’ve done your homework and will dedicate most of their time to speaking with well-prepared students. The following are a list of clues that recruiters use in order to determine if you’re prepared:

#1: You Know What the Company Does

One luxury of the virtual career fair (VCF) is that you know exactly who is coming ahead of time. Never start a conversation with a recruiter by asking for more details about the company. The recruiter will know immediately that you’re fishing for information and talking to every company attending the VCF.

Asking generic questions like “What does your company do?” or “I have my degree; where could someone like me fit into your company?” immediately tells recruiters that you didn’t bother to research their companies at all. These questions will only get you a link to the company and the conversation ends there.

Instead, know exactly what the company does as well as the positions they have available. You’ll find this information in CareerLink or the company’s website.

#2: You Know the Position for Which You’ve Applied

Yes, you read that correctly. You need to apply for any position you’re interested in ahead of time. Why? Applying for a position at the recruiter’s company shows your level of interest and it expedites the recruiter’s ability to find your application in the company’s system.

The recruiter is not the hiring manager, so the recruiter’s responsibility is to find the talent and pass that along to other people in the organization. The more you impress a recruiter, the more likely it is that your resume will end up in front of the right person.

[Related: Four Ways to Start an Intelligence Career]

#3: Your Resume Is Up to Date and Correct

This rule applies to the resume you use in your application and the resume you have in CareerLink. If you start a chat with an employer, tell them you recently graduated with your bachelor’s degree and haven’t updated your resume to include this academic credential, you appear unprepared and sloppy to the recruiter. If you are a current student or university alumni and need help with your resume, send it to for a review by a Career Coach.

#4: You Know What Makes You Unique and Qualified

VCF recruiters know the basics of our programs, and they are here due to the reputation that American Military University and American Public University have within the intelligence community. They assume that all of our university students have taken some courses or completed their programs, but the recruiters need to understand why you are worth their time.

Whether you have experience in the intelligence field or are bringing skills from a different background, you need to know your marketable skills. Also, practice how you’re going to demonstrate those skills to the recruiter, so you can help the recruiter understand how your skills, knowledge and abilities would be a good fit for the position and the recruiter’s organization.

[Related: Looking for an Intelligence Career? Learn the Peril of this Acronym]

To help you prepare to talk with recruiters, the Department of Career Services will be holding three prep clinics in the week prior to the VCF. We’ll go over the specifics of the companies attending the VCF, discussing more details about how to conduct yourself and provide other tips to keep in mind for the VCF.

Remember, we can review your resume to help you prepare for the VCF, but don’t delay! The VCF will be here before you know it.

About the Author: Ann Eastham is an academic advisor with American Public University System. While working as an advisor, she developed a passion for assisting students in converting their education into careers and became a career coach in 2014. Ann currently works with students in the health, nursing, intelligence/national security and military industries.

Leischen Kranick is a Managing Editor at AMU Edge. She has 15 years of experience writing articles and producing podcasts on topics relevant to law enforcement, fire services, emergency management, private security, and national security.

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