7 Tips for a Successful Job Fair Experience

14 Mar

In my county or any other county for that matter when attending a job fair

I just returned from our county’s Teacher Job fair and it was a bit of a hoot. First off, I was incredibly nervous going into this thing. While I think most people are nervous about job interviews, I was a bit more nervous than most people, because I knew a lot of the people there i.e. the Supt. of HR, the director of Special ed. plus my own administrators at my own school plus countless other people in the system. And the first question that I knew that would be asked was, “What are you doing here?!?” I knew this fair wasn’t for me, but the system had no provision for voluntary transfers this year. So I was willing to do my own legwork, and this fair was a place where I thought I could have a chance to talk with many administrators in one shot.

There really were a TON of people in attendance. Keep in mind, this fair was only recruiting for secondary science, math and fully certified special education (I’m in 2 out of 3 of those). It was very narrowly focused, and yet it was still pretty packed at 10:30. I debated about whether to go in or come back later but just went in, after taking a deep breath. I walked across a drizzly parking lot and got in lines where people registered and got name tags.

And this is the part where I’m going to tell you what to do or not to do:

1. Get Certified. This seems like a no-brainer, but there were still people showing up who were not certified and still hadn’t even gone through the process. You can begin by going to the Georgia Standards Commission website and learning about the process and applying.

2. Read the notice of what the district is looking for. You can find out all about job fairs and recruitment at the TeachGeorgia site. This is a great resource for teacher job hunters in Georgia.  It’s been a few years ago, but I was registered on there and did get calls from administrators during the summer.  A bonus tip is to have your profile link to your own web page/resume.

3. Bring your certificate/copies with you. They were really checking and screening those today, so people who did not have theirs had to go to another line where a helpful person would help you pull it up and run a copy. But that slows you down, and you’ll look unprepared.

4. Bring multiple resume copies. I think most people know and do this already, but it’s too important NOT to mention.

5. Get and fill out an application beforehand. Most school system applications can be obtained online, and many can be completed online. Go ahead and fill one out and submit it, then have a copy to keep with you when you go to a job fair or interview.

6. Talk and network with other perspective job hunters. While there might be some degree of competitiveness, there is also a possibility of some of these folks becoming your coworkers. While I talked to a few nice opeople, I also met a couple of surly characters who had their game face on and were not interested in chatting. I found myself hoping that I would never have to work with them and had a thought about pointing them out to my HR contact. However, I do have faith in the people doing the hiring and interviewing in the special education department that they will be able to sort out the nonhackers. And some people talk when they asre nervous and some would rather not. For the latter group, I wonder why they are teachers. I find talking helps lower the tension, but maybe that’s just me.

7. Have work samples. This tip alone is worth your time, and is your reward for reading this far. It’s my contribution to teacher innovation. The light bulb went off in my head yesterday. I basically put pictures on my mp4 player, as well as a short video I did, just to show and wow whoever I talked to about how I might use technology in a class. While it wasn’t exactly a powerpoint, it worked just like one. Now I had a portable way to show off my stuff. Trouble is, I never had a chance to use it.

I was in the process of standing in the special ed. line waiting to be screened by my special ed. director, where I figured I was going to have to answer that question. But the associate superintendent got to me first and that was the end of my job fair experience. He said he was willing to work on some sort of transfer later once he knew where all the openings were.  He seemed like he was willing to work with me, even though there was no provisions made for voluntary transfers this year.

I can only hope, but without getting my hopes up too high.  Last year, the principal had told me I would make an excellent coteacher in science.  But that was a different principal who knew he was leaving and could say whatever he wanted.  By the time I realized that there was not much of an intention to move me, it was too late to ask for a transfer or it would have been denied in any case.  So this year, I am perfectly okay with staying if I have to but moving if I can.  I’ve got good people to work with, good people to work for.  But there are other worlds to conquer and learn.

I did a small poll of a few people at the job fair and I discovered that while there were a ton of teacher wannabes there, there are very, very, very few who are both willing and able to do SID/PID at any level, let alone at the high school.  On some level I see why, but on another it is depressing.

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2 Responses to “7 Tips for a Successful Job Fair Experience”

  1. Leila March 16, 2009 at 11:51 pm #

    I hope you get that transfer. Thank you for these tips. I am actually going to a job fair on Wednesday. Wish me luck!

  2. Daniel Dage March 28, 2009 at 10:03 am #

    Thanks for the good thoughts, Leila, and I hope you come out on top as well. It will be interesting to see whether the HR person follows through. I’m going to pick up the pressure as the year goes on at the county level but also at the building level. I think I’ve earned a chance to do show what I can do in the regular curriculum.

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