How not to do a job fair – Yes, YOU.

Ok, so after the last of the fall job fairs ended today, I really had to just take a deep breath. And, finish that last drink of beer here in the airport (What, a guy can’t imbibe after a long day of repeating the same phrase 647,…no, 648 times? I also decided to craft a list, a dummy-proof list of things to do AND not to do/say/spew at a job fair. Yes, I’m an equal opportunity whiner.

1. Have your resume with you. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to picture your resume in my mind’s eye like before the first time I went to Disney and pictured Space Mountain.
2. Research us a bit. Give me 1 sentence that tells me you have internet access and had the sense to show some (even feigning) interest in us.
3. Dress the part. It’s not an interview, but remember, I’m half-deciding if you are someone I want to interview.
4. Have a smile, and a story about who you are, and why you are a person I want to know. Half of all communication is non-verbal, and a smile says, “HI! How are you today?”
5. Know what you are looking for. Telling me that you majored in Marketing because you like marketing, or IT because you want to work with computers is redundant.

1. Invade my personal space. I can hear you from 12 inches away. (Caveat – DO talk loud enough for me to hear you from 12 inches away.
2. Recite a pre-rehearsed speech that tells me about every project, skill, tool, building you ever worked in or on. That’s why you have a resume. All this tells me is that you have no ability to quickly and concisely disseminate information to another person.
3. Be combative when I tell you that Astrophysical Material Science is related to our business, and I am wrong. Remember, I am the keeper of the keys/resumes. (wow twice in one week I pulled Astrophysic-somethin, BONUS POINTS)
4. Ask what our company does. Check the Interwebs.
5. Have a resume that looks like my 14 month old wrote it. Really? REALLY? This applies 100-fold if you are a PhD candidate, unless that is something you’ll learn at the dissertation stage.
6. Go off on a 10 minute diatribe about how I MUST be wrong about immigration and that you are eligible. I play by the rules set by the lawyers, not make ‘em. I could have lied to you, but I gave you the straight story on why.

Job fairs suck. We all know this. On our side of the table, we stand for 5-7 hours, repeat the same message, and collect all sorts of germs. On your end, it sucks to be herded like sheep at a pageant. But we can make it easier on both of us by doing things the right way.

Stay tuned for a recruiter’s version of the “million man” promise to candidates.

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4 Comments on “How not to do a job fair – Yes, YOU.

  1. this is scary. it will only get you people who are conformists, which is very bad for a tech company. if a recruiter shows this level of arrogance i will go elsewhere. there is enough opportunity out there. the best candidates interview the company they do not interview them.


    • Thanks for the comment. I agree with you 100% on the candidates interviewing the company, however, it is a mutual, two-way street. People who can be succinct, and get their point across are perceived as much more impressive than those who fumble around. It’s not arrogance, it’s looking to be efficient. It’s part of holding up each others end of the bargain.


  2. “this is scary.”

    Yeah, asking people to be informed, prepared, and professional is just terrifying. How draconian of you Pete!


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