Job fairs are a favorite location for local television reporters to get in on the recession coverage.
The formula: Get up early; find a long line outside an airport hotel and talk to the poor saps in suits waiting in the rain to be the 200th person to speak to a very young recruiter about a position as shift manager at a retail outlet; edit; broadcast; done. There’s a look at the local job search.
But that’s not for executives and job seekers trying to find their next six-figure job, right? There are no mid- and senior-level job opportunities and few executives get out of bed expecting to find the next run up the corporate ladder at a job fair in the “Arbors Ballroom C” in the airport Hilton … right?
Yes, said recruiters, job seekers and career coaches we spoke to for a story May 20 (Job Fairs Reach the Senior Ranks), but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them.
The recruiters we spoke to said they don’t hire many executives at job fairs, but all touted their value.
Don’t expect to walk away from a job fair with a job or even a good recruiter contact. Instead, job fairs provide mid- and senior-level executives an opportunity to network, polish their interview skills and dig for job leads.
“Think about it: You’re going to a place filled with people with the same professional background, a lot of the same interests, all there to talk about the job market – who’s hiring, who’s laying people off, what companies are looking for different kind of skills. It’s networking,” said Irene Marshall, a certified resume writer, career coach and president of coaching service Tools For Transition, who works with TheLadders. “Just being there reminds you that the way you’re going to get your next job is through meeting people.”
But making the most of the event means attending the right way, doing your homework before and doing more homework after the job fair. Reporter Kevin Fogarty and I worked with recruiters and job seekers who attend such events to craft a checklist (Executives 11-Step Guide to Job Fairs) for executives to get the most out of attending job fairs in their hunt for work.
Some of the less obvious tips:
- Avoid general/government job fairs. Events organized by local government agencies and chambers of commerce tend to be unfocused, involving companies because they’re local, not because they’re relevant.
- Target a session or recruiter, and get there early. Look at the agenda ahead of time to see if there’s a particular session, recruiter or company in which you are interested. Get there early and talk to other early arrivals; they probably have a special interest in the topic or company. Find out what they know and who they know you should talk to. Find out who in the room is influential in that area, and talk to them.
- Don’t hover or wait in line. Don’t stand still while someone else talks to the contact you want to meet. Pick up the contact’s information and leave your card; come back when the contact is free, or follow up later.
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