Don’t just try the same old things in your job search
Last Saturday marked our second CareerCamp event here in the Southern California area. By many accounts, it was extremely successful, both in terms of attendance and the amount of information that was shared. That said, there were a couple of people who arrived that day looking for a more traditional “career fair” where they could submit their resumes directly to companies that might have openings. One person even stated the typical, and extremely important phrase, “I need to get a job NOW!”
While our CareerCamp events are dedicated more to “Building the Career You Deserve” rather than hard job leads, I wish I would have had the opportunity to talk to this person. Career fairs are indeed important, in their own way, but we can all become too dependent on any one method for finding our next job.
Career fairs can seem productive. After all, we are getting our paper resumes directly into the hands of recruiters and companies who might be in a position to hire us. Unfortunately, the reality of career fairs is that there is little to make you stand out. You are part of a great mass of people, all looking for the same, limited offerings. You need to look closely and carefully at the results of your career fair experiences. Are they resulting in followup contacts from companies? Phone Interviews? Face-to-face interviews? Are you hearing from companies or are the days following a career fair filled with job search silence?
I am not suggesting you give up on career fairs entirely, rather that you investigate other alternatives, like CareerCamps, skills building workshops, MeetUps with like minded people continuing education and more. It is not a case of “either/or”, but rather “yes/and”. I think that extending your job search and career building beyond the typical areas can result in new opportunities and even new directions in your career.
I think that some of the people who didn’t attend CareerCamp, simply because it wasn’t a career fair might have shortchanged themselves. Yes, of course, if you need a job, you need to be actively looking, but I think there were many opportunities to speak with other people about their experiences and hear experts speak for free that provided a real chance to expand their job search above the norm. It might not have seemed as active and productive as handing over their resumes, but I think it would have been productive in many new ways.
What job search and career building methodologies are you using? Are you only engaging in the “same old, same old” or are you looking for opportunities to expand your reach, your knowledge and your effect on your career. As we all know, it is much too easy to find ourselves in a rut in our lives, regardless of what we might do for a living. It is always easier to fall back on the traditional — the tried and true — even when it might not be the best method. Much as the business world used to say, “No one gets fired for buying IBM!” we can say the same about our job search. No one will look askance at you for attending a job fair, resume review, or using other, typical resources. Some might question your attending CareerCamps and other new, ways of building your career. Sometimes it just feels safer to follow the group than striking out on your own.
For me, though, that is exactly what you need to do. In all things in life, you need to be looking for new ways of thinking and doing. Sure traditional methods will continue to work in some cases, but finding new pathways can open up opportunities that others might miss or ignore. Give yourself every advantage in your career, your job search and your life. Don’t discount new methods until you give them a try. Even then, you don’t replace traditional methods with the new. Rather, say “yes/and.” Then add these new methods to your repertoire while still using traditional methods where they do the most good. I think you will find that including both could be a great way of building the career you deserve.