Even infrequent readers of this space will recall that I, generally speaking, have an extremely low opinion of "job fairs", having attended dozens over the past couple of years, the vast majority of which were a total waste of time (no, I do not want to sell your insurance, thanks). There have been a few here and there which did stand out, even though, in each case, the company was looking for something else (usually sales people) at the event, but also had a need for my sort of marketing/communications skills. Now, obviously, none of these discussions panned out in the long run (one went to a third interview, however), but "it could happen". Chief among the "didn't totally suck" job fairs were the ones the Tribune did down at Soldier Field, probably because they were able to leverage their other resources (companies that advertised in the paper, regular listers on CareerBuilder, etc.) to get some quality exhibitors lined up.
Tomorrow (Tuesday, February 22, 2011), the Trib is having another "Soldier Field" Career Fair, but, instead of having everybody troop down to the Museum Campus, and stand in a line wrapping around the stadium (in the cold, wind, and snow ... I've been out there!), they're doing a Virtual Career Fair from the comfort and convenience of your home computer! Why this retains the "Soldier Field" aspect, I'm not sure (I suppose it's "a brand" at this point), as it could be virtually hosted on Mars if the whim struck, but it's an interesting concept. I'm not sure if the Tribune has done this format before (it seems to me that they may have, but I've not made it to one yet), but I'd attended a couple of similar events when I was working in Second Life, and they can be great if the exhibitors are "trained well" and systems are in place for streamlined handling of resumes and chats.
Anyway ... I thought I'd pass that along here ... I'll be there, but I don't know how much attendee interaction will be possible within the system they're using.
Speaking of "getting out of the house", I wanted to share a networking experience that I had over the past several days that I think illustrates just how important it is to "get out there" and meet people. As I noted in my last post, I was off at the Social Media Club of Chicago's monthly event last week, and one of the folks I talked to was a fellow who was in from out of town (he was the Chairman of the SMC in another city) for a conference over the weekend. He had set up an early-morning TweetUp at 7am on Saturday at a coffee place down in the loop, and had invited all and sundry to attend. Now, I'm not a crack-of-dawn kind of guy, but I got myself out of bed and downtown a few minutes before 7:00 ... and at first waited to get into the store, then waited, and waited, and waited for other people to show up. I was going to give up and bail at 7:45, but this guy (along with an associate representing a charity they were supporting) eventually shows up at about 7:40. Since it was just the three of us, we had a nice chat, talked about our backgrounds and various Social Media things we're involved with, and were out of there by about 8:20. A bust? No! It turns out that he's coming back in town this summer for a major show down at McCormick Place, and needs to have some assistance with that program ... I have exactly the sort of skill set he'd be looking for on that, and it looks like I'll have another "freelance project" coming up. Yeah, it's not a "job", but it's a check, and another little add-on to the resume. And it wouldn't have happened had I not made the effort to be there at 7:00am on a Saturday. So ... don't just brush off those "by chance" networking events ... they can be very useful in your search!
Hopefully, by next Monday, I'll have another book to bring you here ... got two that I'm thinking you'll be interested in that are currently in the "reading pile".