Top 10 things to do — and not do — at a job fairApr 4th, 2009 | By joegrimm | Category: Job Fairs, Preparation
By JOE GRIMMM
Someone asked for 10 do’s and 10 do-not’s for people who attend job fairs. I don’t know why there need to be 10 of each. Moses did nicely with 10 commandments that covered both angles. But then, he had help.
So, here we go:
1. Interview with everyone you can, even if they work for some tiny paper you never heard of in a city with a name ending in -ville that you think is at the edge of the Earth. Pass up a table with an unoccupied recruiter, and you could be passing up a good mentor, the piece of advice you need to get started or a great first job.
2. Use the down time. Meals, receptions, workshops and unscheduled breaks at a job fair can be as productive as the interviews themselves. Be available. Introduce yourself. Buttonhole the people you want to meet.
3. Prepare for your interviews. Even if it means cruising by the recruiter’s table and scamming a piece of the literature to read before you sit down. Try not to sit down without an idea in your head.
4. Sell yourself in the interviews. In addition to fielding questions, be prepared to make a couple of pitches for yourself. What is it that they must know about you? Put it across.
5. Have a good question for every interview. It can be the same question all day long, if you want to compare papers. It could be something specific to the paper. The best questions are keyed to recent events at the paper and their impact. Good personal questions might have to do with your interests in work, training or the newsroom culture.
6. Stay fresh. Job fairs can be grueling with one interview after another. They are especially grueling on people who party the night before. Even for the rested, the room can get stale and the interviews monotonous. If you start to flag, get some caffeine going or take a walk around the block to revive your spirits.
7. Leave every recruiter with something. An impression, a good package of clips, a personalized letter, a strong resume and a promise to follow up all help you stick in their mind.
8. Take something away from every interview. Ask questions that will turn up the nugget of information or advice that each recruiter has for you. Dig until you find it. Be active.
9. Write thank-you notes. Most people at the job fair won’t. Cite something specific from your interview: “I’m taking your advice about my clips on the dog show and weeding them down to just one.” This will help make you memorable — and show that you can take good editing.
10. Do some follow up. After the job fair, try to get in to see the paper, apply for an opening or find out more about it. People who are successful at using job fairs do half their work after it’s over. Treat the job fair interview as a first contact, not the last.
1. Clicking your teeth with your tongue stud will set you back with some recruiters. Clicking your teeth with your navel ring is almost always bad.
3. Do not pass your résumé under the partition to the recruiter in the next stall.
4. Do not ask questions that are answered in the name of the paper. Wrong question for the Boston Globe: “Where are you located?” Wrong question for the Daily Herald: “So, like, how often do you publish?”
5. Do not let mild adversity get in your way. If you are in your room, your hair dryer sets your clips on fire and you fall off the balcony and into the hotel pool to escape the flames, go to the job fair, anyway. Editors like tenacity.
6. Yawning, belching and wax removal are better left for between-interview times.
7. If your clips are full of typos, do not present them by pointing out the typos for the editor and explaining whose fault they are. Just smile and hope that the editor doesn’t read clips.
8. When the editor asks, “Could you write a four-page autobiography to go with your application?” do not ask, “Should it be about anybody in particular?”
9. Do not leave gum, banana peels or false teeth (your own or anyone else’s) on the recruiter’s table. It is untidy.
10. Do not cry at the job fair. There should be no crying in journalism.