I heard of another job fair here in Phoenix through an email list and it will be on 2/23/09 and forwarded it on to two other email lists I belong to.
I got back a question from a contact on one of the lists:
With some 14,000 people attending the recent Jobing.com fair, should we even consider these fairs worth our time?
My response in part is below:
I went to the Jobing.com career fair the other day, arrived later than I had originally planned, but still got in front of employers, and got my resume in their hands, and what happens next, is anyone’s guess, but I did what I felt needed to be done in order that I may secure a job in the near future.
To put the answer to the question you posed “With some 14,000 people attending the recent Jobing.com fair, should we even consider these fairs worth our time?” The simple answer, for me, I say is YES, it is worth it, even if you never get in front of an employer (but hopefully that won’t happen), you are out there to network not only with the employers, but those around you also seeking jobs, and you never know if a recruiter or business owner might be one of the people you strike up a conversation and talk to ‘out in the open.’
It may sound counter-productive, but you never know where that next opportunity will come from, if it’s from a job seeker who’s got a friend or relative working at a target company or company in the same industry you’re looking in, all the better. I carry a business card holder with me with about 15-20 of my nework cards at ALL times, you never know when that opportunity will be there to network with someone.
Also, something I heard in the Connections meeting Wednesday evening … that got a laugh out of just about everyone in the room, and I can’t remember who said it, but they were at the job fair too and said ‘if you apply online at a company that was at the job fair, tell them you were at the job fair and talked to someone there, and they would ‘never know the difference’. That last part is what got the laugh, but it’s also mostly true.
Even though these folks behind the booths at the job fair didn’t have personal business cards for the most part (or if they did, they were not sharing), I would ask their name and write it down, and what company they were with if they were willing to share that information, one of the gals I talked to at one of the health care booths even offered me her work email address to follow up with her later.
As I was leaving the job fair with my portfolio in hand, I met one last person walking out with me who actually asked, “Are you a recruiter?” and I told her that no, I wasn’t, and I asked her what prompted her to ask me that and she’d overheard part of a conversation I was having with someone else as I was walking out and I’d mentioned to that person about a recruiter I was currently working with to find a job … We talked briefly about our experience inside, I handed her my network card, and asked her to follow up with me later.
…I could be an advocate for any number of groups or causes, I happen to have strong feelings for both SJN and the St Pats employment ministry, each doing good in their own way on their own merits, and I’ve learned so much in such a short time about the importance of building face to face relationships and being professional about it…
My main point being, is get out in front of people, even if you think it’s a bit inconvenient, crowded, or whatever, make the time to connect. I networked with those around me at the job fair, and handed them my ‘network’ card, and asked them to follow up with me later. How many of those people that will actually contact me, I have no clue. Only one other person I spoke to had a business card, and someone handed me a copy of their resume that had their contact information on it as it was the only thing they had.
…because I’ve really started to learn the value of networking, and it’s not just ‘collecting business cards’ or ‘connections’ on sites like LinkedIn or Facebook, or followers on twitter, but building real face to face relationships that will connect you with that ‘next great career opportunity’…
I have to admit that I’m a bit in awe of what face to face networking and social media has done for me, and the exposure it’s gotten me in just the last few days.
I asked Chris Vicari at the last SJN meeting “how can I help this group? I want to volunteer.” She referred me to another board member, Michael Prahl, who is in charge of forming an ambassador program for SJN, and we’ve discussed a few things, I will follow up with him next week. I’m no longer afraid of picking up the phone, or asking to meet someone for lunch, a drink, coffee or whatever, and saying ‘this is what I need, how can you help me?” or “this is what I have to offer, how can I help you?”
I even emailed a reporter for ABC 15 on Thursday morning asking to use a piece of his article on the job fair in my blog, he allowed me to link to the story and pictures, and I plan on following up with him once I post the information to my blog.
I was sent a private message by another prominent blog poster saying “thanks for the kind words.” I made some comments about networking and the tips they had on their blog, when we were chatting back and forth on Twitter, I went to their blog and posted my ‘tip’ about networking because they requested new tips and I didn’t see a guest commentary about networking, I don’t know if it will appear on their blog, but I did give that as my ‘big tip’
Also on Thursday after I sent out a message to about half of my network contacts on LinkedIn asking them politely to join a group on LinkedIn that I felt was going someplace and important to me, I got a reply back from the CEO of a company that I’d met at networking events the last two months, that he was ‘serious about working with me.’ He initially was looking for some free PR for his own business through various avenues of social media by my messages, (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to be specific), but through a short dialog with him, I ended it with saying, “we need to meet and talk about how we can help eachother.”
I contacted a co-owner of another company who reviews job blogs, who said to me, “you should talk to ‘so and so’ at this ‘other company’, and here’s my idea on how to approach him…” … He’s already been reading my blog and said I was off to a good start and said if I needed anything to just ask.
I hope my long answer gives you enough insight on why I say “Yes” to your question “is it worth the time?”
I’m meeting with someone this morning in about an hour that I met through a connection and we are going to go over my resume and ‘spruce it up a bit.’ I’m looking forward to that, and he is meeting with a new client right after we meet, so my information will be fresh on his mind, and he will be thinking of a way I may be able to help this other company based on my experience.