Friday, August 16, 2013

Job Safari: The Bounty

I promised I would share everything I liked and disliked about the Hiring our Heroes job fair I scouted out on Wednesday, the safari bounty if you will, and a promise is a promise, like a pinky swear!  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out this post first, and then come back for the reactions.  Nobody likes a spoiler!

Well here are the ups, downs, and in-betweens of this event to give some of you other jobless/searching milSOs a heads up for what you should expect if there will be a fair heading to a town near you.

So, let me tell you right off the bat… I am still unemployed.  I was not offered my dream job Wednesday, and I will still be here blogging away, waiting for that opportunity to come in (and when I finally land that bad boy, you’ll know it).  But apparently some seekers received offers, so yippie!

Actually, according to the exit stats 48 provisional job offers and 6 firm offers were received from Wednesday’s event.  That’s not so bad, I suppose, but there were 221 people in attendance, so roughly a quarter of attendees stand a chance? Eh…

Some of the great things I took out of it were:
-The entire event was free to military and spouses, and online sign up was super simple.  Pre-registration is the way to go so you don’t waste any time sitting down to fill out paperwork.

-There were quite a few employers.  Diverse groups ranging from national companies like Verizon, Lowes, and Aaron’s to smaller companies and more local businesses like credit unions and trucking companies.
Decent array of employers.
-Free sticky notes.  Need I say more? I don’t normally go into these types of events and grab everything employers throw out on the table expecting you to hoard like a squirrel with some free nuts, but I have a weakness for stickies.  So I took one.  Not 12, + a pen, a hat, a magnet, and a free tote bag.  Just 1 pad of sticky notes.  We don’t want to make the employers wonder why you’re hiding in the corner with your crazy eyes, whispering “my preciousssss” with all of these free things in your hands.  (I hope you got the Lord of the Rings reference there… if not, please go watch one)

-Workshops were being held at certain points to ramp up your resume, offer insightful interviewing strategies, and help you market your military skills.  I did not attend these because I was more focused on the tables and employers, and I have been through a ton of these sorts of classes by choice, and through forcible teaching in college/grad school, but it was nice to see that the sponsors tried to hit every angle of the job search process. 

-This event was co-sponsored by the University of Phoenix, and while I have my own personal feelings about their educational techniques, I must say, they do really try to push soldiers to use their GI Bills.  Which is a good thing, of course, because there are few things more valuable in this world than a good education.  They also published a great little magazine that I absconded with called the Phoenix Patriot.  Not only does it offer insight on the job market and the school in general, but it has some tips and tricks for the job hunt, and articles about military history.  This particular issue focused on food and how it has changed as the military has evolved.  Great reading, and who doesn’t want to be transported to the 50s for a spell?? I know I do! 

And of course there were plenty of cons as well:
- I was one of only 8 military spouses in attendance.  Which made most of the room, other than the potential employers sitting behind tables, males.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not easily intimidated by, well, anything, but walking into a room full of soldiers and men dressed in business attire seriously made me stand out like a sore thumb.  And extremely sore, black and blue thumb!  I did rock a killer dress/blazer combo though, so confidence was certainly beaming high.

-The companies looking to hire seemed far more geared toward the male constituents.  Allow me to elaborate. 1. Many were looking for ex-military, and let’s be fair, most of that population is men.  2. Most positions required more brawn, less beauty.  I can lift my fair share of weights, but a Fed-Ex driver or LI Railroad mechanic I will not be.  3.  The companies looking to hire females were more interested in reception/admin/nursing slots than anything else.  I will skip the tirade on gender biases and leave it for another time, but really? That’s pretty much what you have to offer? Meh, I’ll pass.

-84 employers with 221 job seekers plus tables, advertisements, stands, furniture, chairs, and other miscellaneous items shoved into one room makes for a rather harrying event.  If you’re not into tight spaces or being up close and personal with some strangers & germs, you may want to sit this one out, because it got mighty crowded in there.Check out this local news coverage to get an idea of the space issues I'm talking about...

Here's last year's layout, mainly employers.  It gets crowded quick!

Overall, I think it was a decent event.  Do I think I’m personally going to benefit out of it as much as others may?  No. But it all depends on the field you’re looking to get into.  And I would say it is certainly geared toward transitioning from military to civilian positions, which is a huge bonus for our servicemen/women.

And I’m certainly going to start searching through Hero2Hired and get some resumes out there into cyberspace.

Here’s a few tips if you do decide to make it out to a fair:
1.       Business attire please.  Let’s not look like we’re going to the beach, let’s look like adults needing a job.  Quite a few missed that memo apparently. 

Throw on a blazer. It won't hurt, I promise!

2.       Wear moderately comfortable shoes.  I walk well in heels, but I can see being on your feet for a few hours on a cement floor as a problem for some. Think ahead.
3.       Bring enough copies of your resume.  A few weeks before the event the website will be updated with a list of confirmed employers.  Check it out, see what tables you want to visit, and plan how many resumes you need accordingly.  Wouldn’t want to get caught without one.
4.    Take a bag that can hold it all.  Make sure you can carry everything you need, but keep a folder with your resumes out and handy so you don't need to go searching.

This bag can hold just about anything I may need.
One of the best "me" purchases ever made!

5.       Don’t steal all of the free things.  Just don’t.  It makes you look like a wacko.  What are you going to do with that visor from Flatulence R Us anyway?
6.       Bring your game face.  If you look intimated, it will show.  You should be the lion, and they the prey.  Don’t make it the other way around.
7.       Cruise the ship alone.  Walking around with others is just a bad idea.  This is a time you want to go solo.
8.       Make contacts. Even if you don’t think the job available is right for you, you may make a great contact with that company for the future.  Think long-term instead of just right now.
9.    Try to stay positive.  As much as I didn't have high hopes for this event, I went in with big smile and an open mind.  Stay positive, and you might just be surprised!

Hope this is inspiration to those still looking to try and jump on one of these opportunities at either Hero2Hired or a Hiring Our Heroes fair.  They are great companies and could certainly be worth your while to check them out.

Have a fantastic weekend, and happy hunting!

And don't forget to link up with Whitney's Yoga Pants to start your weekend off right! 

Now dance!!

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