5 Things Job Seekers Do Wrong at Job Fairs

Posted by Rob Riggins

Wrong Way signAt the recent Cyber Job Fair we asked recruiters what they saw job seekers doing wrong. The things that make job seekers stumble right out of the gate. And we all know how critical first impressions are.

Recruiters talk to hundreds of job seekers at each job fair, so the contrast between a smooth, polished professional and someone who’s a bit lost and unsure of themselves can be stark.

Recruiters do have empathy for the nervousness and uneasiness of job seekers. But if that happens to describe you, it’s doubly important to get the basics right. Some of the items that recruiters cited job seekers were doing incorrectly:

Not knowing what type of work you’re looking for. If a recruiter asks you what type of work you are seeking, “Hey, what do you have?” is not a good response. Don’t expect a recruiter to figure out your career path for you at a job fair. Research the company and the positions they’re offering.

Cyber Job Fair Job Seeker handbookClearedJobs.Net provides each job seeker with a Job Seeker Handbook that includes that information. If you haven’t done your homework ahead of time, do it quickly on site. Approach the recruiter expressing interest in a particular position(s). Transitioning military are you listening?

Asking what does your company do? Again, we provide each job seeker with a Job Seeker Handbook that has information on each of the companies attending the job fair and the positions they’re seeking to fill. Read the handbook before asking this question. Or do a quick search on your smartphone.

Asking what types of jobs does your company have? Once more, it’s about preparation and respecting the recruiter’s time. If you haven’t done any research ahead of time, do some quickly on site.

Handing a resume to a recruiter without a greeting or introduction. You may be shy. A job fair may terrify you or make you incredibly nervous. But you’re trying to sell yourself to a potential employer and you can’t rely solely on your resume. Your interaction with a recruiter at a job fair is an interview. Courtesy and respect are required.

Not bringing enough resumes to a job fair. Be sure to bring plenty of copies of your resume with you to a job fair. A recruiter needs something to reference while you’re having a discussion.

What’s the gist of these complaints? Job seekers who are not prepared and who haven’t done their homework. You have a very short amount of time with a recruiter at a job fair. Make the most of that opportunity by being prepared and presenting yourself as a polished professional.

Resume Employment Gaps

As part of each ClearedJobs.Net job fair we offer complimentary resume reviews with an HR professional. HR Consultant Patra Frame shares these words of advice from the resume reviews she did at the recent Cyber Job Fair.

1. Nearly a quarter of the job seekers didn’t have a LinkedIn account. The biggest offenders: Younger job seekers! All the “mature” job seekers had an account and nearly half of them had their LinkedIn account on their resume.

2. Many job seekers had resume formatting issues. Boxes, shaded lines, a variety of colors. If a recruiter takes your resume at a job fair, most likely they plan to scan it into their applicant tracking system. ClearedJobs.Net may be scanning your resume because you didn’t pre-register for the job fair. In either case your resume will not scan properly with graphics or multiple colors. Strive for simplicity. It’s easier to read and to scan.

3. Three individuals had been out of the workforce for a long period due to family care issues asked how to address that issue on their resume. If it’s a gap in the last 10 years or so, Patra recommends a simple sentence with dates and a comment such as “Resolved” or “Children now in school.” It’s better to address the issue up front than hoping that no one notices.

4. About 20% of the job seekers had their security clearance or critical certifications such as PMP buried on the second page. Please put your security clearance upfront where a recruiter can find it immediately. And critical certifications are key to your getting a job, so don’t bury them at the end of your resume.

5. About 10% of the resumes were 3-5 pages long, listing every job held in the past 25-40 years. Unless you’re applying for a job that requires 25 or 40 years of experience, don’t include it. What’s really relevant for the vast majority of job seekers is what you have achieved in the past 10 years or so.

6. The transitioning military resumes displayed one of recruiter’s top pet peeves — a focus on responsibilities vs. what they achieved with those responsibilities.

Patra will be reviewing resumes at the November 20 Cleared Job Fair. Please attend and take advantage of her knowledge!


This entry was posted on Friday, November 07, 2014 8:24 am

3 thoughts on “5 Things Job Seekers Do Wrong at Job Fairs”

  1. I need to comment on advice posted by Rob Riggins related to things missing on resumes. I don’t have a LinkedIn account and if I did, it would not include my current work history or clearance information because it is an OPSEC issue. Cleared employees, especially those who work in high level security positions, should not be advertising on the internet. And if the recruiter doesn’t realize or understand this, they have no business dealing with cleared candidates.

    1. Thanks for your comment Shelley. You bring up an excellent point regarding operational security. There are senior executives in 3-letter agencies who have LinkedIn profiles. Those profiles are generic and state that they are a Government official working for the U.S. Government. That type of “skeletal” account allows them to network and participate while still being cognizant of operational security. Participating in a social network doesn’t mean that you have to broadcast information, which you certainly should not be doing as a cleared professional. It’s a personal decision and one not to be taken lightly in the cleared community.

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