Written by Susan Lamphiear
“Always wear cute pajamas as you never know who you’ll meet in your dreams” — not sure who said that first — but I kind of wish I’d thought to coin the phrase. Anyway, the topic is careers, so obviously you won’t see anyone on the job or at a job fair wearing slippers and pajamas except in a Dilbert comic strip. I’m thinking of all those celebrities, pictured looking drowsy because they stepped out for some mundane reason.
Most of us, fortunately, can still take an ordinary trip to fill up the car with gas or buy groceries without being judged like a celebrity. We’re still not recommending hair curlers (does anyone even use those these days?) or fluffy slippers, though.
Dressing the part, while important in the job search, is only one important part of showing up prepared for a job fair, says keynote speaker Andy Ridley. Andy coaches individuals, groups and corporations towards reaching their goals and Becoming Ideal. He’s also trainer for Arizona@Work, Maricopa County (Formerly Workforce Connections).
Andy transitioned into his current career after spending many years in education. But his most lucrative job got its start indirectly via a job fair. He had applied for a job in a nearby school district, but imagine his surprise when someone at the job fair said, “You’re THE Andy Ridley?” Months before he’d applied for a job but hadn’t even received an interview. But for some reason that application gave him name recognition. Voila. One of Andy’s most important pieces of advice—you never know who you might meet at a job fair.
Know why you came to the job fair
- To Learn — What jobs are available, hours, what is the job, who is the employer, who else is looking for work?
- To Meet – What employers are there? Meet them or their representatives. Meet other job seekers.
- To Impress – Dress appropriately, and shake hands by matching the other person’s grip, leaving a good impression.
Know why employers attended the job fair
- Not to hire on the spot
- To learn what potential employees are available, how many hours they’re available and what tasks they’re willing to do
- To meet people who are looking for new employment. Maybe they’re the right people for the positions available
- To impress you, the potential employee, with what they have to offer, showing only the best side of their business
Based on his years of experience, Andy tells us to have a game plan but to remain flexible.
Making the most of the job fair
- Figure out what you want.
- Be proactive. Find out who’s attending — what employers will be there?
- Create a short list of booths to visit.
- Research your short list (Make your prep notes right on your short list).
- Get to the event early, before it even starts (you can probably leave early when everyone starts packing up to go home).
- Have a resume and several copies even though most companies won’t take a paper copy.
- Use sticky notes to separate the resumes according to various skills for various job opportunities.
- Be prepared with questions to ask recruiters.
- Dress as a professional. Andy suggests dressing one step above the position you want.
- To allow yourself to shake hands and not be weighted down, carry a notebook-size portfolio—make it serve as your wallet. In the wallet keep several type business cards that highlight your best qualifications, your name and contact information. Vistaprint offers affordable cards online. Put your car keys in there, too.
- Pass up the bags and chip clips they might give out. It bogs you down. Concentrate on meeting people so you can get a job and buy your own chip clips!
Be confident, be mature, smile, make eye contact, and be professional (put that cell phone away!)
Make a Connection
- Briefly introduce yourself (elevator speech).
- Tell them your name last (or first and last).
- Offer a copy of your resume.
- Shake hands, matching their grip.
Engage them by making a statement about the company
- Listen and take notes.
- Market yourself. Be positive. No negativity.
- Be a good listener.
- Take notes.
Watch your time
- Limit time at each booth.
- Walk away from booths if you know you will not be interested in working there.
- Introduce yourself to other candidates and to a booth rep that you feel may benefit from knowing the job seeker. It gives you another opportunity to present yourself to the company.
- Carry blank thank you cards. Return later and offer the card with another hand shake. Put your name/contact information/ and thank them for their time.
Go home and email the best prospects. Remember every meeting and connection is a form of an interview. And your day was a success if you met one new connection. You win if you go because you’re bound to learn at least one new thing, meet at least one new person and possibly impress one contact.
Amy Aubey, Talent Acquisition Leader
Discover offers credit cards, consumer banking, and a global network. Their mission? To help people spend smarter, manage debt better and save more so they achieve a brighter financial future.
Located at approximately 101 and I-17 (2402 W Beardsley Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85027), the company currently employs 3000 people and has 200 job openings including home equity-loan processors, bankers; full time customer service agents; full time collections agents; consumer lending and banking operations including personal loan agents, student loan agents, and deposit product agents; and full time fraud agents. Benefits are included Day 1 including 401ak, fitness center, cafe, parking, and tuition assistance up to $5000 per year.
To learn more about the company or to apply, visit their website.
Heather Kitsko, Talent Acquisition Team Lead
VIXXO, a full-service asset management and maintenance solutions company employs 1000 associates across the US and Canada, and serves brands including Starbucks, PetSmart, and 7-Eleven. It’s been named INC 500 Fastest-Growing Private Companies for over eight years.
A team of doers, the company’s strength lies in their diverse backgrounds and experiences, thriving in a fast-paced and dynamic environment. Open positions include director of product development, director of software engineering, lead generation specialist, senior accountant, coffee technician, customer service representatives, change management consultant, and data warehouse developer. For more information or to apply, go to their website.
Express Employment Professionals
Denzel Mason, Business Developer
Express Employment Professionals is a locally-owned and operated staffing company located in Tempe. The top three benefits of the company include job resources, flexibility, immediate eligibility for medical benefits including medical, dental, vision, short term disability, life insurance and holiday and vacation pay.
The company, a member of both the Tempe and Mesa Chambers of Commerce, provides skills assessment, connections to local employers, and proactive marketing of candidates. A one stop shop, they offer resume review, interview advice and wage negotiations. Positions open include part-time, full-time and contract work.
Current openings include staff accountant, full charge bookkeeper, customer account supervisor, bilingual Spanish content editor, Special Education Teacher (Casa Grande), art process technician, P&C licensed sales rep and CSR, enrolled agent/office manager (Cave Creek), CPA/Tax Reviewer. Internal at local Express Office needs outside sales/business developer; bilingual front office coordinator; and part-time contract recruiter. For more information, check out their website.
Goodwill of Central Arizona
Carter Ellis, Professional Career Advisor
Goodwill of Central Arizona is a non-profit organization working as a positive catalyst for eliminating unemployment. They also transform gently used donated goods into services to help thousands of Arizonans. They provide on-site career development via Goodwill Career Centers and connect local talent with Valley employers including Prescott and Yuma.
Serving the community, Goodwill partners with employers and collaborates with community resources. Goodwill provides career coaching, resume critiquing, and mock interviewing. They provide on-site services. You may connect with them through employment events, talent sourcing and Goodwill Job Board. In holding job fairs, Goodwill is more interested in quality than quantity – They like to match what job seekers are looking for with what companies need.
To learn more about Goodwill, and details of what they offer, visit their website.
Closing the formal part of the meeting, Sheila Coulam, Director of Operations for Career Connectors, thanked everyone, including volunteers and our host, Highlands Church. She reminded everyone of the Career Connectors website which has lots of resources such as the new career advice blog which includes a blog on how to transition from the military to civilian jobs.
Sheila pointed out the resources on hand after the formal meeting — the opportunity to talk with hiring companies, to consult with LinkedIn and resume preparation experts, and to meet the professional photographer to take free business heat shots.
She pointed out that the next Scottsdale meeting is the third Thursday of the month in March , March 16 (NOT the usual second Thursday).
For other upcoming Career Connectors events, more details, and to register, click here.