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Should Senior Level Job Seekers Attend Job Fairs

Posted by Kathleen Smith

TRIAEM Cleared Job FairI teach classes on career search and social media for transitioning government and military personnel. A common question I get from senior-level transitioning job seekers is whether it makes sense for them to attend a job fair. When they review the positions being filled at an event, the vast majority of the jobs are not senior level. That’s because senior-level positions are numerically much smaller and often publicized differently.

Approaching a job search after being in one environment for a long time, such as the military or civil service, can be disconcerting — especially if you have built a strong network of professionals within your community. Moving beyond your comfort zone can be a challenge.

But to increase your chances of finding your next great opportunity, you need to look at expanding your network into other communities. We frequently refer to the government or military as being one large community, but it is actually made up of many different communities depending on which government agency or branch of service you serve with, and what your role is.

Besides going to networking events, it is also helpful to go to job fairs, because job fairs are networking events. While on the surface it may not seem to be a good use of your time, it is a great way to meet a concentrated group of people with a lot of information relevant to your search, all in a short amount of time.

Recruiters, Hiring Managers, Senior Executives

You’ll be meeting with recruiters, hiring managers and company executives who can not only expand your network but also give you first-hand advice on how to navigate your job search in the commercial world, which is a very different process than a government career path.

While you may not see the executive level position you are seeking in the Job Seeker Handbook for one of our Job Fairs, companies do not always publicize all of the position they are trying to fill. Many of the recruiters who attend our events are seasoned professionals who have executive positions as part of their billet. Hiring managers and senior executives are often in attendance as well, particularly for smaller firms. These individuals will be able to give you a picture of how executives are recruited for their company and who would be the best person for you to connect with.

Other Cleared Job Seekers

Second, and one of the most overlooked networking opportunities, is talking with other professionals who are also looking for work.

These professionals are a great source of insight into how companies recruit and hire and how different companies treat their employees. You can also learn tactics that other job seekers have used successfully in their searches. These are all very valuable insights to add to your career search tool kit.

The connections you make enlarge your network which ultimately benefits your job search and career.

Be Prepared for Success

Networking successfully takes practice. At an event like a Cleared Job Fair, you need to strategize who you will talk to and how to improvise along the way. If you approach a career event as being beneath you or an uncomfortable chore, that is what it will become.

But if you approach a career event as an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone, gather ground intelligence and to network, you will find a whole new world open to you.

You will eventually be talking to many recruiters and hiring managers in your interview process and talking to recruiters and hiring managers at a Cleared Job Fair gives you a concentrated practice session on how to approach, network and close each recruiter. Recruiters are people too, with good days, bad days and particular quirks – the more experience you have interacting with them, the more you enhance your opportunities to succeed in the interview and hiring process.

Be Open to Other Possibilities

There will also be companies at a Cleared Job Fair that are not currently on your radar, and you might find that they are the type of company you would like to work for. Many executives aim toward large companies, but small- to medium-size companies will definitely utilize all of your skills and actually give you the opportunity to stretch into other areas where you might learn something new and add to your skill set.

Executive management positions are coveted but at the same time scarce. You may have to work your way up in an organization and prove yourself…again.

As with anything, your success or failure will depend on how you prepare, strategize and approach the event. Keep an open mind and good luck!

This entry was posted on Monday, February 15, 2016 2:59 pm

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