I attended a job fair last week as a volunteer.
This was the 15th year of this event and it was very well planned, organized and attended. Lots of volunteers putting lots of time into the event.
There were over 50 businesses participating. A very diverse group of businesses including a kennel business, insurance company, local Police and Fire departments, Hospitals and an auto racing team, just as examples. All attending with the primary intent of meeting new potential candidates for currently open positions as well as future positions.
Because I was a newbie helping this organization, they decided to give me an easy role. I stood at the front door of the coliseum and directed people to different areas of the room. I also had to point people towards the exit. I basically saw every person as they came in and went out.
This turned out to be a great place to observe.
It is estimated that 2980 potential employees attended this event. I made some rather significant observations of these candidates from my vantage point.
Here is some of what I saw:
1) The individuals running the booths for the attending businesses were dressed in Business Casual attire or Suit & Tie.
2) Less than 25% of the candidates were dressed for a discussion with a potential employer, let alone being dressed for Success.
3) A significant number of the candidates came in wearing old jeans, sneakers and logoed T-Shirts.
4) There were a few people who came in wearing dirty T-shirts and jeans and asking for directions to the banking or hospital business booths, not the lawn care guys.
5) Some of the candidates showed up in designer ripped up jeans and wearing lots of jewelry or bling (depending on our gen-level).
6) A good number of women came dressed in attire that I think would be fabulous for a bar or night club, but far from appropriate for a potential employer discussion. At least the employers who were there on that day.
7) Many of the young male candidates wore baggy jeans, and I’m using a Gen-X term indicating fully disclosed boxers.
8) Dozens of potential candidates walked in the door and became immediately overwhelmed. I saw at least 10 people turn around and walk right back out the door with fear on their face.
9) Dozens of potential candidates walked in the door, spent 5 minutes and then left, apparently not sure what to do once they got into the room, or unwilling to spend the time & energy.
10) Some people brought their young children with them. I understand that day care is an issue, but I wonder if it’s appropriate to bring you children to an interview? (Note – some brought their teen-age kids)
Now, not all that I observed was negative. I did notice some positive actions and positive people within the candidate pool:
1) A few people walked in and asked for business XYZ or for directions to specific types of businesses. They appeared to be on a defined mission
2) I noticed many people with portfolios of resume copies – they came prepared (if they surfed the web and looked at the businesses beforehand, they were even more prepared)
3) I watched a few people strategize about the path they would take around the room (efficiency is a good employee skill)
4) I noticed a few people networking with other candidates in the room as well as with some of the volunteers (I participated in this myself) They exchanged business cards and words of encouragement and even a few recently discovered job opportunities.
By far the most exciting thing I observed occurred with one person:
A young man who had his A Game on from the very beginning.
He walked in the room wearing shiny black polished shoes, crisp clean and creased black pants, a bright white ironed shirt and a solid pattern tie. Better than his look and attire, he had a small clear folder that appeared to hold dozens of resumes, a pen and business cards.
And, better then all of this – He walked into the room, up right, shoulders back, with a big smile on his face and a sparkle in his eye. This guy was ready to work the room and find a job.
I watched him stand patiently in lines and then interact with the recruiters. He shook their hand when introducing himself, took the applications they provided him and then he offered his resume before shaking their hand goodbye.
Each encounter with another recruiter went pretty much the same way. I got distracted with my volunteer role and did not see him leave the building. I would love to have met him and awarded him with at least the acknowledgement of my observation. To me, he was the classic example of how a young man should prepare, dress and act going into a Job Fair.
I hope he gets a good job soon. He deserves to be honored in this way.
To close – I recommend that when you attend a Job Fair
A) Be prepared (Have resumes and know who the businesses are that you want to see)
B) Be dressed for success (If you do not know what this means – ask someone)
C) Be ready to encounter the fast pace and chaos of a room full of people (It is hectic – but if you come about half way thru the event, it clears out a lot and is less hectic)
D) Have a plan of who you want to talk to and get thru your list before you talk to any other businesses there.
E) Have the Desire, Attitude & Passion to put the efforts into the task (You need to have these traits to be successful at anything)