(Photo by Neal Santos)
Full disclosure: CardConnect, Think Brownstone and AWeber are marketing-level sponsors of NET/WORK Suburbs. They did not review this story before publication.
We hear you: Job fairs and networking events are tough.
After organizing more than a dozen NET/WORK job fairs along the Northeast corridor, we know firsthand how overwhelming and intimidating they can be, especially if you’re really hoping to land a job. So we talked to a few of our NET/WORK sponsors and put together this handy guide to making the most out of the event.
NET/WORK Suburbs is coming up on Tuesday, Sept. 26, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Vanguard in Malvern. It’s free! But you must register by Sept. 24 — no walk-ins allowed.
1. Choose a few target companies to talk to. Here’s a list of companies that’ll be at the event, and we’ll be posting a final list shortly.
It’s important to remember that companies are always building their pipeline, so don’t worry if you aren’t looking to make a move right now or if the company hasn’t posted any open positions that suit you.
“Typically, when we learn we need to hire someone, it’s a couple of weeks too late to start looking, so we try to build a pipeline of strong, qualified individuals and keep in touch with them as their needs and our needs progress,” says Think Company’s senior vice president of consulting and talent Phil Charron. (That said, here’s an open Think Company position: UI/UX product design lead.)
2. Do research.
“Interviewing is a two-way street. To prepare, it would be awesome if you took a few minutes to check out our website and let us know what caught your eye, what you can contribute, and what questions you might have for us,” said AWeber senior recruiters Kathleen Murley and Bill Kennedy. (AWeber currently has two open roles on our jobs board: web development team lead and senior DevOps engineer).
Jen Ireland, CardConnect’s vice president of human resources, agreed. She suggests familiarizing yourself with CardConnect’s products, checking out the company’s Twitter and reading news articles about the company.
For example, Ireland said, CardConnect recently got acquired, so a great question would be, “What team do you see growing as a result of the acquisition?” (Check out two open CardConnect positions here: one for a software engineer and one for a product integration and support specialist.)
Of course you can’t know everything about every company at NET/WORK, so don’t let that stop you from talking to businesses you haven’t heard of yet.
3. Get your personal elevator pitch down.
You’re not going to have a lot of time with each company at NET/WORK, so figure out what qualities you want to show off and how you’re going to do that. If that doesn’t come naturally to you, practice! And remember that companies wanna hear this stuff — they want to figure out if you’re the right fit.
“When talking with a candidate, we always like to know more about your experience and talk about examples of your work,” Charron said. “What have you done in the past that shows your understanding of UX or development? How have you solved complex challenges? Can you share a few stories and some details with us? We don’t need to see a presentation or a full portfolio at NET/WORK — we just want to learn more about you and your experience, interests, and talents.”
Said AWeber’s Murley and Kennedy: “We love hearing about your passion projects. What makes you tick and why you love your career, side projects, activities, etc.”
4. Get ahead of any tough questions.
Unemployed? Been unemployed for a long stretch? You’re gonna have to talk about that.
The market is good right now, said Ireland, so “it might be a bit of a red flag if you haven’t had a job in three months.” But: “As long as the person is open and honest, we’re not gonna count that against them,” she said.