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Job fair blues

Try these tactics to get the most out of job fairs.

Dear Molly: Are job fairs worth the time? I attended a local one recently, but the only computer jobs the companies there were hiring for were experienced programmers. They wouldn’t talk to me if I said I was interested in something else (which I am). Are there computer job fairs? How would I find out more about them?

Molly says: A lot depends on the company that is organizing the event. If they do their job correctly, a computer job fair in your local area can be a really good way to at least find out what kinds of jobs companies in the area are looking to fill. The problem is, it is hard to tell if they’ve done their job right unless you attend the event, and even a good company can host a bad event from time to time.

My suggestion is to go and plan on spending no more than half a day there. Make it your goal to speak to at least five company reps while you are there and get their contact information. Consider it an exercise in building up your skills in on-the-spot interviewing.

You can find out about computer job fairs in your area by keeping a close watch on the business journals and events sections of your local major dailies. You can also find out about them by searching the Web. I found a few by using “computer job fairs” as my search term.

In some areas of the country, job fairs are regular events. For example, the Northwest High Tech Career Expo is held a couple of times a year and admission is free if you come clutching your resumé.

Molly Joss also writes the monthly Career Advisor column for ComputerUser magazine. Ask a career-related question at [email protected]

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