Employment opportunities are improving say these covention attendees: Job seekers Jeremy Lee and Caron Alarab, and recruiters Diane Parker of Associated Press and Virgil L. Smith, vice president of Talent Management, talk about the convention’s job fair.
By Peter Sessum
Desperation is in the air. With so many people scrambling for so few jobs, AAJA’s annual job fair can take on the scrappy intensity of a dog fight. To help job seekers cope, Voices cornered some of the convention’s top recruiters to glean some words of wisdom:
Think conversation, not interview
People rarely get actual jobs at job fairs, says LA Times recruiter Randy Hagihara. Job seekers should treat it more like a conversation than a formal interview. Recruiters talk to many, but remember few.
You often just get 10 seconds to make a good, lasting impression. Start with a good, firm handshake and look them in the eye. Holding eye contact is good; staring is creepy. And don’t forget to blink.
Preparation is key
Know the organization before talking to its recruiter and have some questions ready. Smart questions engage recruiters. And in this environment there is such a thing as a stupid question. Asking about the future strategy of the company is good; asking where San Jose is will terminate the conversation.
You want to have a digital footprint, says über-recruiter and convention veteran Joe Grimm. Have a blog, a resume on LinkedIn, be on FaceBook and Twitter. Many recruiters look up candidates on social media. If your name comes up empty on Google, so will your job search.
Write your resume right
Demonstrate your copy-edit skills by writing your resume in AP style. Include descriptions of previous job experience not just bullet points. Edit out unnecessary words. Distinguishing between cell or land-line phone is good, but label your phone number and e-mail. If a recruiter can’t figure out which is which on their own, do you really want to work for them?
The whole convention is your job fair
Meet other professionals at dinner; don’t just sit with your friends. And be professional even outside the convention. “The person you talked to today will see you acting like an idiot on Hollywood Boulevard,” Grimm says.
Most importantly, follow up
Once you have talked to everyone who can help you, pop back in and chat again. Revisiting a recruiter will reinforce their memory of you, and in the end, people hire people they remember. And send a thank you note. E-mail is fine, but even better is a hand written note with something personal. ‘Thank you for telling me about the opportunity in Chesapeake Bay” is specific and will help you be remembered.
It’s a two-way street
Remember job seekers aren’t just competing for the best jobs, recruiters are also competing for the best candidates.
Find Peter on Twitter @petersessum