Tuesday, May 26, 2009

General tips for any career fair

Some general tips on what to do / not to do at a career fair for those looking to get hired:
  • Show up on time, don't come rushing in 5 minutes before it closes. 85% of the companies will be packing up and view you as a nuisance. Moreover, you are showing people off the bat you are not prepared and don't take this seriously.
  • Wear a suit. If you don't have one, wear a nice clean shirt with a nice clean tie (or equivalent for a female, I have no clue what this is). If you don't have a suit, then only under the most dire of economic situations can you not go immediately buy one. It doesn't have to be from Brooks Brothers. It just needs to fit you reasonably well, and not have visible stains or holes.
  • Bring your resume. I can't believe people need to be reminded this, but bring a lot of copies. Sure, you may want to get a specific person's email address so you feel like you made a stronger connection. But when I'm talking to you I'll want to look at your resume, I'll want to take notes on it. Make it easier for me to hire you.
  • Don't be angry about your current or last employer. This sets off a lot of warning bells for anyone talking to you. Maybe you have perfectly reasonable complaints (I did), but keep them to yourself. When asked why you are leaving, either say you are looking for more opportunities or say you are unemployed. If you tell me your current boss is a jerk, I probably won't be too excited to hire you.
  • Be specific. Don't come up to me and say you are interested in every opportunity my company is hiring for. Sorry to say, but you're not qualified for them all. If you are a programmer, tell me so. If you are a security specialist (like say Information Assurance) say that. If you are a consultant tell me so. You can elaborate and let me know of any specialties or specific skills. If you don't want to be typecast/pigeon holed give me 2 or 3 examples of different work you have done. But at some point you need something special. You need to be a <fill in the blank>. If you can't be a <fill in the blank> then you have some career issues you need to address.
And it doesn't hurt to know about the company. Our's is small, we're not a household name, so I can't blame you. But those people who did know about us and clearly had done research, they left a great impression.

And for those looking to hire:
  • Be non-specific. If you are looking for people, be clear what skills and experiences you want. Don't show up and say "We may need an accounting / financial analyst type person soon." This is not only a waste of your time, but cruel and unusual punishment for those looking for a job.
  • Send people who aren't aware of needs. Nothing worse than hearing interviewers say "I'll have to check and see if we can use someone like you." You need to know, off the top of your head. If you don't then you either need a cheat sheet, or to go home.
  • Snide comments. Be polite, but honest. Don't be cruel. Don't make disparaging comments about attire, resumes, potential of being hired etc. This is thoroughly unprofessional.
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