Monday, January 24, 2005

Job Fair Woes

Aaaaaaaugh! Sorry, I’m a little frustrated. You see, I’ve been working with a career counselor to make my job search more efficient and appealing to prospective employers. Because of the ever-widening gap (not working seems to be the reason for this) in my employment history, my counselor suggested that I go with a “functional” resume. For the uninitiated, a functional resume should always begin with the heading “I’m Desperate,” because the fact that you went functional is generally interpreted by hiring managers as “This Person Has Something to Hide.”

In theory, a functional resume is a good thing. Rather than list the jobs you’ve held with employment dates and responsibilities under each job (the usual), you spice things up by focusing on your skills and background up front and leave the employment history for last. The idea is that recruiters and managers will take a look at all the wonderful things you’ve done over the years and focus less on issues like gaps the size of Leon Spinks’.

So, today I walked in to the ballroom full of recruiters looking for talent and made my way over to the booth of a company I would like to work for. I smiled, turned on the charm and proceeded to explain to the woman who greeted me why I thought I would be a good fit for her company. So far, so good, until…

Her first question to me was “Have you gone to our website and posted your resume there?” I responded that I had not and was then told that creating a profile and posting my resume online was the first step. I wanted to ask why her company was participating in a career fair if they’re just going to smile, shake hands and refer people to their website, but I held my tongue. She barely scanned the first page, which contained all of my accomplishments, certifications and education.

Turning to the second page, Ms Recruiter noted (here’s the shocker) that I didn’t list any duties underneath the positions I’d held (this being a functional resume and all). Then, she suggested that when I visit the web site, I put something under each job to explain what I did! Well, all that information was right there on page one (again, I held my tongue), but I guess the format didn't convey the message I'd hoped for. So much for going “functional.”

I did find a bright spot, however. There were two people there from Dell: a woman who was sharing information about Dell’s new plant in NC and a man from Corporate who discussed Dell jobs on a national level. Both took their time with each candidate (which made for a long line, the only downside), whether they seemed like a fit or not. I remarked on this and thanked them both for treating us all like people, rather than cattle. Oh yeah, and I got a free Dell T-Shirt, woo-hoo!

Today was a good learning experience. The next time I see Ms Recruiter Lady at a career fair, she’ll be forced to continue the conversation when I affirm that my standard resume is online and fully accessible to her and her staff. I learned a few other things too, but if I share them with you, you might steal my technique, you filthy moocher (don't worry, it ain't workin' so good). Good luck to all you other job hunters out there, and to the companies with openings: Just gimme a chance - you won't be sorry and there's a free Dell T-Shirt in it for ya!

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