Job Fair Etiquette

I had to take a little road trip over the lunch hour to deliver some extra job applications to the job fair where my company’s HR person was hanging out for the day. The job fairs my company has attended in the past are either feast or famine – if we hold them around graduation time, you’ll see more students and the like trolling for jobs. If they are held in late fall or winter – not so successful.

Although we’re coming up to graduation season and there were a lot of young folks who were looking for jobs, I was astounded at how many retirement-age folks came up to my company’s booth to inquire about our job openings. If I would have been manning the booth alone, I probably would have been so bold to ask some of these people if they were casualties of the crappy job market – laid off, forced out of retirement because of 401k losses, etc., but many of them just took one of my company’s applications and put it on the stack they had already amassed.

But while there was a part of me that felt sorry for some of these people who seemed to be starting over (i.e. – my company is a call center with several entry level positions – right now we’re not hiring management), I felt that some of the younger folks in the crowd could take a page from these job veterans.

First and foremost, people who seemed to have experience in the job market were impeccably dressed for a job fair that was being held at the local Ramada. But I appreciated their efforts, because clothing is something I notice. Mind you, I’m the schlumpiest person to walk this earth, but if you come to a job fair wearing a sparkly sweater that would be more appropriate at a nightclub, chances are that I might hire you but expect you to flake out on me in a few weeks and just stop showing up to work. Same goes for blue jeans. Appropriate for going to the grocery store, weekends, etc., but not the best fashion foot forward while trolling for jobs.

Second was the poise that these people presented. And yes, I know that’s something that is learned more than readily acquired, but I enjoyed the questions that these older workers asked while they were looking for jobs. I also enjoyed that they weren’t apt to grab a ringing cell phone in the middle of a conversation with a prospective employer.

It is interesting – I read an article the other day that said the current generation entering the job force is in trouble because older workers are taking less pay and scooping up the positions that used to be earmarked for college grads. From what I witnessed today at the job fair, the younger generation should take note. Their competition is no longer contained to one another, they are now battling with an older, better dressed and more well versed generation.

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3 thoughts on “Job Fair Etiquette

  1. This is true, and the same goes for older folks who are still on the job. Positions that would normally open up when older folks retire aren’t opening because the older folks are staying a few more years to rebuild their retirement portfolios. Thus, Gen X and Gen Y can’t advance in their companies/organizations, creating somewhat of a generational fight.

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