Published September 25, 2010
There are several strategies involved in a successful job search. Unfortunately, most people concentrate on the strategies they have the greatest level of comfort with. In a labor market as competitive as the current one, such an approach will likely extend a job search. Think about some job search activities you’re not comfortable engaging in or familiar with. Use the start of fall to target one of these and make commitment to work on improving it. Some possible suggestions:
Social Media-Do you utilize Twitter at all for your job search? What percentage of your LinkedIn profile is complete, and how many connections do you have? Select one or both of these and start learning more about how to use or increase your value from them. For a resource, pick up a copy of Jason Alba’s book I’m on LinkedIn, Now What.
Networking-Since hiring data consistently shows that more than half of all jobs continue to be filled through networking, how close to fifty percent of your job search time do you spend on networking activities? Set some goals designed to increase your level of networking activity. These could involve scheduling more informational meetings or interviews, joining networking groups or attending networking events. If you struggle getting started in this area, I’m more than happy to plug my book Networking for the Novice, Nervous or Naïve Job Seeker.
Job Fairs-Fall is a popular time for job and career fairs, and you can expect standing room only crowds in the current labor market. Don’t let this or the fact that many employers now will not take a résumé but advise you to apply online deter you. The fairs offer you an opportunity for personal interaction with company representatives that can differentiate you from candidates they only see on paper. In such a competitive market, a job seeker needs to use every possible advantage to full potential.
Published September 16, 2010
Some tips for how to make the best of your attendance at a Job Fair
Hopefully, upon arrival you will receive a list of attending employers with the locations of their booths. Take the time to review this. Most likely, it is more up to date and provides better details about positions than the fair’s web site. Walk around and observe. Some employers sign up late and do not appear in the directory.
Target and prioritize your list of what employers you want to see. I strongly recommend that before visiting a top priority booth, stop at a couple of companies you have only limited interest in. This allows you to “dress rehearse” your introduction speech. Work out any flaws in your delivery prior to hitting up your main targets. Another helpful strategy can be to wait on line at a booth next to a prime target. See if you can hear any questions your desired employer asks each candidate. This can help you prepare a stronger answer for once you get there.
Once you meet employers, provide a strong a handshake. Speak confidently with good eye contact. Since the employer will speak with literally hundreds of candidates that day, you will need to find some way of making yourself memorable. Try to provide a detailed, specific story about an achievement or key project you worked on that has relevance to the company. Don’t overlook something as simple discovering a common bond with the company representative, such as school attended, common colleague or association membership. Each could provide a point of reference beneficial when following up.
A common recent job fair complaint I hear is that many companies will not accept résumés at fairs; preferring to instruct candidates to apply on line. Rather than become aggravated by this, make sure you get the company representative’s business card. Jot down any notes about your meeting on the card. Once you complete the online profile, follow up with an email to him or her indicating you have done so. Reference your meeting with a specific detail about your conversation, thank them again, and establish a schedule for following up on you candidacy.