How To Be Successful At A Job Fair

How To Be Successful At A Job Fair

A job fair can be an effective way to meet hiring managers and recruiters in your community and learn about many job opportunities in one day. If you are prepared and use your time wisely, you can walk away with many strong job leads. Many job seekers make careless mistakes that can hurt their chances of success at a job fair. Here are 16 simple tips to make your next job fair a success.

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Lessons From Jeopardy ‘Mad Genius’ Arthur Chu

Have you heard the controversy surrounding the tactics used by Jeopardy contestant Arthur Chu? From Yahoo! - "Chu, 30, stunned fans of the long-running game show last week, as he barreled his way past eight competitors to win the game four nights in a row. But it wasn’t his impressive winning streak that turned him into an Internet sensation — it was how he won."

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Promote Out Versus Lateral Out

Let's briefly touch on the difference between promoting out versus making a lateral move out. Promoting out is changing employers for a position with more responsibility. As an example, let's pretend you are a waitress in a restaurant and you are eager to become a restaurant manager but there are no opportunities at your restaurant. You've targeted a couple of other restaurants in town for which you'd like to work as a manager.

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How To Introduce Yourself Once You're Referred

Asking for a referral is important. How you handle that referral is even more important. If you want to work at XYZ Company and you know someone that works there, you should ask them to refer you to a hiring manager. Ideally, your contact will make a personal introduction, or copy you on an e-mail introduction. Sometimes, you'll just get a phone number or e-mail address of the hiring manager.

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Who Should You Tell You're Looking

You've started to look for a job. Who should you tell? Almost no one.

It's best to keep this information on a need-to-know basis. And right now, almost no one needs to know.

The risks are real. Telling too many people can hurt your chances. First, you could tell people (that, in turn, could tell more people) that may turn out to be your competition. It is generally best to have fewer candidates competing for the same job as you, no sense in advertising to your competition.

Secondly, your boss (or your boss's boss) doesn't need to know you're looking. Don't give your manager the perception that you are on your way out of the door. If you don't get a job right away, you should still want as many opportunities in your current job as you can get. There is one typical exception. If you are being laid off in the future, it may make sense to tell them you are looking. But there are still risks, so still be careful.

Don't tell your co-workers.

Don't tell your neighbors.

Don't tell your Facebook friends and Twitter followers.

Tell your spouse or partner, but ask that they not share it with anyone.

If you have a relationship with people at the company at which you're applying, it is best to tell the fewest number of people. Stick with either the senior most employee, or the one closest to the hiring manager of the position for which you are applying.

As hard as it may be to resist, wait until you've started the new job before making the big announcement.

How To Get A Reference When You're Still Working

Reference checks are not going away. With every passing year, I hear people saying that the days of reference checks are almost over. The reason mentioned usually has something to do with the belief that is "illegal" for an employer to speak about a candidate's performance. I am not a lawyer, but on the surface, it is certainly not illegal for a previous employer to give a reference. As a hiring manager, I can tell you that is a pretty risky assumption to make.

While it is true that many employers have a policy against giving references, that does not mean you can get away with not providing one when asked.

The more common challenge is how to get a reference at your current job when you are still working. Marching into your boss's office and telling her that you are interviewing somewhere else and, oh by the way, you need a reference, might hurt you in the long run. So, what's a job seeker to do?

First off, the hiring manager or recruiter is more than likely very sensitive to your situation. They will typically understand that you cannot use your direct supervisor as a reference. Some other possible options:

  • A previous supervisor that left the company - another reason why it is so important to keep in contact with co-workers when you or they change jobs
  • A supervisor from another part of the business that already knows you are looking for another job
  • A co-worker - just be sure it is someone that can actually speak to your work
  • A direct report, if you are a supervisor - this is very tricky and should only be used in rare circumstances; a former direct report that has promoted away from your group could be a very good option
To help prepare your reference, follow the guidance we wrote about in the How To Ask For A Reference article.


Looking For A Job During The Holidays

Today was observed as Veterans Day, a time to honor veterans that have served our country. Thank you to all of our veterans. Words cannot adequately thank you for your hard work and sacrifice. We have all of you to thank for our freedom.

Many businesses and most government offices were closed today in observance of today's holiday. Perhaps you were able to take some time today to honor our veterans.

If you're actively looking for another job, hopefully you took advantage of the slower than normal Monday today. Looking for a job, like nearly all sales situations, is partly a numbers game. If there's an opportunity to work (read: applying for jobs, sending out resumes, making introduction calls) when some (if not most) of your competition is taking a day off, you should take it.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching there will be other opportunities to work when others are resting. I'm not suggesting that you give up your holiday time. I am suggesting, however, that you take advantage of the season by finding time to do work a little.

There is a natural slow down in many companies but some still hire during the holiday season. For those that do not, what a perfect time to get your name out there.

Work when many rest. Work harder when many work.

And Happy Veterans Day!

Don't Fool Yourself - You Need To Apply For Jobs

Much of the work that can be bundled into "job search busy work" will almost never directly result in you getting a job. Tasks such as writing your resume and cover letter, researching companies, practicing being interviewed, and building your professional network are all very important, but unless you actually apply for jobs, you will probably never get one. It can be easy to get in a rut, especially since by its very nature, a job search has more opportunities to hear "no" than "yes".

And that means that some people will naturally migrate to comfortable tasks that can't result in rejection. And after a while, it can feel like they're doing a lot of work but getting nothing in return. If you're caught up in that, understand that you need to apply for jobs.

For the sake of simplicity, I define "applying" as getting your resume or application in front of someone that can potentially hire you.

One way to help you stay focused is to set daily or weekly goals that include applying for jobs specifically.

How many jobs will you apply to this week?


Be Great At Your Job Now

If you're currently working, the greatest asset in your job search bag-of-tricks is your performance in your current job. If you don't like your job, it can be real easy to become negative at work. But you must resist.

Especially if you deal with the public, there are so many opportunities to show people how great you are.

Years ago, one of the senior managers on my team needed to hire a manager. She wasn't getting the quality of applicants she was hoping for and decide to try something different. Rather than waiting for a recruiter in HR to find her the best candidates she hit the streets. Even though it wasn't a retail management job, she visited local retails stores and shopping centers and pretended to shop. She was actually shopping for a new manager.

Near the end of the day, she walked into a store in the Stoneridge Mall and was greeted by the store manager. Long story short... the hiring manager introduced herself and asked if she was in the market for a job change. She came to work for us a month or so later and performed very well.

Excelling in your current job has benefits beyond the chance encounter with someone that might want to hire you. Performing at your best can keep you sharp and at the top of your game.

You can control your attitude (read: you are in complete control of your actions that others observe and judge as your "attitude"). So, be great at your current job, it might just make all the difference.

My Take On Ten Job Interview Myths Debunked

Like many Stocktonians, I still have a sour taste in my mouth about a certain New York magazine that, conveniently starts with the letter F. So, imagine my surprise when, after I was reading something on Yahoo, I realized it came from that magazine (the name of which I won't write here) even though their name was everywhere in there.

But the article was good enough that I wanted to discuss it here.

10 Job Interview Myths Debunked

There is a great deal of truth in many of these.

Some key myths:

  • The interviewer is prepared. This is a very sad truth. Don't assume that your interviewer knows anything about you, even if they've had your resume for weeks. What does that mean for you? Don't be shocked when you are asked something that is clearly on your resume or cover letter. And never say things like, "well, it's right there on my resume."
  • The interviewer wants additional materials like references. Many times, candidates I interview bring extra resumes or other materials with them and forcefully hand to them me. Not necessarily a good first impression. What does that mean for you? It is a great idea to bring extra copies of your resume, preferably in a simple portfolio. Without opening your portfolio, ask your interviewer if they'd like a copy. Just the paper, please, don't dress it up with a fancy plastic cover.
  • The most qualified person gets the job. Your ability to do the job matters. But that's not the only thing on which hiring managers are evaluating you. You need to be easy to work with, and you need to be a good environmental fit. In other words, will you get along with your co-workers, other colleagues, and your manager? And will you be easy to supervise? You may be the most qualified candidate, but qualification isn't everything. What does this mean for you? Don't focus all of your energy on selling your prospective employer on your skills alone to the expense of who you are as an employee. Find out all you can about the environment in the workplace. Take all interview questions seriously, even those that have more to do with how you work rather than your actual work.
Read the rest of the myths here.


What The Space Jump Can Teach Us About Looking For A Job

One week ago today, we sat in front of our computer and watched history be made. Felix Baumgartner jumped out of his balloon-lifted capsule from over 24 miles up in the air.

It took only around eight minutes for the professional skydiver and daredevil to reach the ground. But just as exciting for me was the fact that it took two and a half hours to ascend to the edge of space (not to mention the months and months of planning leading up to that).

As Baumgartner approached the jump height, retired United States Air Force Colonel Joe Kittinger went through their checklist. Kittinger, now the previous record holder, was the only one from mission control that spoke to Baumgartner. Some of the items in the checklist seemed basic, but they still went through each item.

Item 29, release the seat belt.

Item 32, disconnect chest chord umbilical.

Before the jump, Kittinger said, "Release the helmet tie down strap. Start the cameras. And our guardian angel will take care of ya."

Before he stepped out of the capsule, Baumgartner said, "I know the whole world is watching now. I wish they could see what I can see. Sometimes you have to get up really high to see how small you are. I'm coming home now."

And with that, he fell toward earth.

And what can this amazing feat remind us about looking for a job?

  • Practice makes perfect. Before Baumgartner made the record breaking jump, he made several practice jumps. Before you are interviewed, ask a friend to ask you questions that may come up in the interview.
  • Have a mentor. Baumgartner worked closely with Kittinger, whose free-fall and height record have stood since 1960. During the ascent and prior to the jump, he was the only one in the Baumgartner's earpiece. Have a large support network, but having one mentor can help clear the distraction of hearing too many voices.
  • Have a checklist. If it's important, write it down and use it. For instance, before an interview, make sure you have a copy of your resume (although you will likely not need to give it to anyone), a pen and paper (again, you will likely not need them), the address where you're going and who you are meeting with - on a piece of paper, and other things you might need.
  • Don't rest. Once you've had success, pat yourself on the back, thank those that helped you and go out and find the next challenge to conquer.

For more information, and some videos from last Sunday, check out these links:



How To Accept Interview Feedback

Hearing "no" is a normal part of a job search. Of course, by the very nature of a job search, there will be many more people hearing no than hearing yes. When a candidate hears "no" from the recruiter or hiring manager, or they receive one of those vague rejection letters, they can be left with that empty and helpless feeling. If you get the "no", it's completely natural to want to know what you could have done better.

But, you will almost never know. Move on to your next lead.

So, don't expect to get feedback. Well, not any useful feedback that is.

For those very rare times you get feedback about your interview performance, here's what you should do:

  1. Write everything down. If it's over the phone, write as fast as you can. If it's in person, smile, nod your head, and as soon as you get away, write it all down.
  2. Say thank you. Don't ask any questions. Just say thank you.

The biggest mistake candidates make when getting feedback is that they try to justify themselves. Anything other than a simple "thank you" can come across as ungrateful and give the impression that you want to go through your excuses.

Leave a good impression by staying professional and just thanking the interviewer.


How Our Library Can Help Your Job Search

When was the last time you visited the library? Yes, that library, the one with the books. Books are wonderful, but the library is so much more than just books. The Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library offers many services that can benefit job seekers.

Need to improve your computer skills? The library offers classes on basic computer use, and internet searching, as well as on job search crucial applications like Microsoft Word and Excel.

If you need to use a computer with Microsoft Word, or need to print, the library has computers available.

Some branches are open until 8 PM, perfect for those evenings when you need to get out of the house for some quiet time.

Lastly, of course you can borrow books and other resources from the library, but did you know you can search their catalog and reserve a book online? The great staff at the library will even pull your book off the shelf and have it waiting for you.  Our library is now offering audiobooks and e-books as well!

Visit the library's website at to learn more and then, go check out their new blog,

Do It Before Breakfast

I recently read the short book, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam. It reminded me of a common concern I hear from employed job-seekers: there's not enough time in the day to actively look for another job. There was nothing scientifically groundbreaking in her book, but it is still a great reminder that the most successful people take advantage of the early hours to work toward their goals. Oftentimes, we hurry about our day, saying we'll spend any left-over time at the end of the day working on our goals. Well, we know how that story ends... with no left-over time.

If finding a job is important to you, give it time at the start of your day. Set your alarm clock an hour earlier on work days and spend that time researching companies, practicing how you'll answer tough interview questions, or working on your resume.

You may be amazed how quickly you get used to a new morning routine.

A Year Without Steve Jobs

One year ago today, Steve Jobs passed away. For me, it will forever be one of those moments frozen in time.

At 56 years old, Jobs lived a very short life. Having been diagnosed with cancer eight years before his death it didn't seem possible that he could actually die.

Steve Jobs loved his work. He loved creating Apple. He loved building NeXT and Pixar. He loved his products and even though he had a famous temper, I think it's safe to say he loved the people he worked with.

Much has been written about his ouster from Apple, the company he built from the ground up, and then his eventual return to build one of the most successful companies ever.

Perhaps we can't all be as successful as Steve Jobs, but we can, in the face of adversity, remember that success is still possible. It was said that Jobs operated in a "reality distortion field", able to convince people anything he wanted to.

Never underestimate the power of thinking positively. We should all operate in a sort of reality distortion field. It's easy to get discouraged, searching for a job can be a stressful time. Hold your head high. Keep smiling, keep shaking hands and introducing yourself, and keep going after great opportunities.

Look for work that you can love. The best manager I ever had reminded me that "all work is noble". Find work that makes you happy. Find work that makes you excited to get up on Monday morning. Money is important, but chase the money after happiness.

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. - Confucius


Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking. Don’t settle. - Steve Jobs, Stanford commencement address June 15, 2005

Best wishes to you.

Leave Your Message After The Tone...

I realize this is going to sound obvious, but based on a couple of examples recently, I have to say it. If you're leaving a voicemail message for a hiring manager or recruiter, be brief, speak slowly and clearly.

  • Say your full name. Even if you're following up after an interview, don't assume they will remember you.
  • State your business. Don't leave the hiring manager wondering why you called. Tell them you are calling to see if there is an update, or that you wanted to thank them for the interview.
  • Leave your phone number, all ten digits. Even if the number you called has the same area code as yours, always give your complete number. Speak slowly and give an
  • Be brief. Be respectful of the hiring manager's time. If your message is more than 30 seconds it is likely too long.

Twice in the last few weeks, I received ineffective voicemail messages from two different job seekers. In the first one, the caller said his first name but did not leave his phone number. The second one started off great. First and last name? Check. Brief and concise? Check. Full phone number? Yes, but at that part of the message she turned into an auction caller.

Follow our advice for phone interviews... stand, and use hand gestures. You only have seconds to make a good impression. Don't blow your chances of getting a call back by leaving an unintelligible voicemail.