In my continuous search for an elusive job, today I went to a job fair.
Last month I went to a "one employer" fair, but today's had multiple employers (more than 30 according to the advertising). It was held on the campus of one of the area universities. Because I wasn't a student or alumna of the school, I had to pay a higher admission fee, but I figured it would be money well spent.
I spent some time beforehand researching the employers that would be there, so I could have a short list of the ones I really wanted to talk to, then I researched those places and learned as much as I could about them. The last step was to come up with a list of questions to ask when I got face time with them.
I arrived at the campus 15 minutes before the fair was scheduled to start, but there was already a steady stream of professionally-dressed people walking toward the building. The registration procedure went very smoothly, and I was waiting in line to get in when the doors opened. My first stop was the bleachers at the side of the room, where I sat and perused the information I got when I registered. I was interested in about a third of the organizations there, so I highlighted the stops I wanted to make on the map, and in what order, before I started walking around.
Many of the tables quickly developed VERY long lines, but I was lucky. My combination of education and experience steered me towards employers who were more specialized and had shorter lines. In some cases, I didn't have to wait at all!
Every "interview" was different. Some employers were just collecting resumes, and some had a set of questions they asked. I tried to remember that they were evaluating me, and I didn't have a lot of time to make a good first impression. I think I did a good job at most of the booths. I found out that some of the employers I was initially interested in didn't have any need for someone with my certifications, and I crossed off some because they turned out not to be a good fit.
It only took me a 90 minutes to chat with all my target employers. There were still people coming in as I was leaving; I wished them good luck. When I got back home, I sent thank-you notes to the places I was really interested in, and downloaded job application packets to start filling out.
Now it's time to wait and see what happens.