Thursday, March 26, 2009

Playing the game at the job fairgrounds

I am now resting and blogging (and watching daytime TV judge shows) after attending two job fairs in as many days.

The thought came to me: If they're called "job fairs," then where are the rides and games? You know, like at the county fair?

On second thought, job fairs are a game. Especially here in Michigan, the Unofficial Unemployment Capital of the Nation.

Hundreds, thousands of us, dress up in our best suits and line up to get inside a suburban hotel ballroom to make a good impression on a few dozen of our potential employers du jour. All with the same goal in mind: Get a Job.

Step One: Survive the Line to Get in the Door. Big job fair lines these days can make you think of old black and white pictures of Great Depression lines. Except no one in those 1930s bread and soup lines used his iPhone to Google a list of job fair exhibitors while he collected his strength to go pound the pavement. (Which I saw yesterday, and which gets my envious vote for Smartest Use of a Smartphone Ever.) Most wait in line quietly, hopefully, probably even prayerfully. Some, usually women, strike up conversations with their fellow job seekers.

After what seems like forever, and you finally make it to the front of the line, it's time for Step Two: The Ballroom Doors Swing Open. An HR-type woman comes to tell you you may now enter the ballroom (in an orderly fashion). You and several dozen of your new colleagues enter.

Step Three: Figure Out Your Next Move. Every job seeker/unemployed person knows (or should know) what's inside a job fair: Tables full of brochures, cards, maybe a little swag, and smiling recruiters. And lines of your fellow job seekers behind each of the smiling recruiters. It's up to you to figure out just how many of these tables/recruiters/lines to hit up, and how.

Step Four: Wait in More Lines in Front of the Recruiter(s) of Your Choice.

Step Five: Meet Recruiter of Your Choice. Smile. Introduce yourself. Give your little sales pitch for yourself. Listen to her or him and find out if they have something for you (that something being a job). Hand over your resume. (you did bring plenty of resumes, didn't you?) Get his or her business card, company brochures, and/or little pieces of swag. Thank recruiter, even if they're not hiring anyone with your mad skills.

Repeat Steps Four and Five as necessary. Or until: A. You have talked to the prospect(s) you wanted to see and they liked you, you lucky person! B. You run of potential employers, or C. You slink back out to the parking lot, convinced you're totally unemployable because no one there had a need for the likes of you.

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