Read AFTER THE JOB FAIR ­ NOW WHAT text version

This article originally appeared in the Career Guide section of the Philippine STAR, January 25, 2009.

Career Roadmap

by Nelson T. Dy

Why is speed-dating like a job fair?

After the Job Fair--Now What? (Part one)

Congratulations to the Philippine STAR for its highly successful "Jumpstart Job Fair"! Marked by a large turn-out, impressive exhibitors and knowledgeable speakers, it was the high point at the Glorietta Activity Center last January 14 to 15. My thanks also to the STAR for giving me the privilege of delivering its closing message. This article is based on that talk and, since this is the season for job fairs, should be very timely. Getting a job is like courtship. And a job fair is like speed-dating. Speed-dating is a popular match-making activity in the U.S. where a bunch of men and women are gathered in one room. The organizer then arranges each man to talk to a woman for three to eight minutes. When his allocated time is over, someone rings a bell to signal the man to talk to another woman. This is repeated until, as intended, the men get to meet every woman in the room. After the event, one asks the organizer for the contact numbers of the ladies he fancies. So how can a Romeo miss out his Juliet? There are at least three ways: 1. He did not take the trouble of getting the name and number of the woman he likes. 2. Even though he has the information, he didn't have the guts to call her. 3. He did something that turned off the woman, either on the speed-dating itself or in a subsequent tryst. Think now in terms of the job fair. If you didn't get a job out of the fair, there are at least three reasons based on our analogy: 1. You failed to get the names and contact numbers of the recruiters. 2. You did not take the initiative of calling them up. 3. You did something that turned them off ­ either during the job fair or in a later interview.

Career Roadmap: After the Job Fair Now What? by Nelson T. Dy

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The first task after a job fair is to write a thank-you note to each recruiter you met. You will be surprised at how many jobhunters neglect this basic courtesy. But if you consistently observe this step, you will gain an edge over your competitors who don't. Stand out from the pack! This means that the first thing to do after the fair flows from what you should have done during the fair: collecting the recruiters' names and contact details. If you have not done so, head back to the fair, retrace your steps and start collecting business cards. Another way is to read the souvenir program of the job fair. Perhaps it contains a detailed directory of the exhibitors. If you struck out in both, well... at least you know what to do in the next job fair you attend. All right. So you have the names. Immediately after the job fair, when your memories and impressions are still fresh, sit down, compose a thank-you letter to each recruiter, and send them. I suggest you hand-carry them the next one or two days while the recruiter's impression of you is still intact. Failure to do this is like Romeo not calling up Juliet even though he has her number. Next week I will elaborate what you should put in the thank-you letter. For now, suffice it to say that in the letter, promise the recruiter that you will call him up and ask for another interview. After you write those thank-you letters, you must have a tracking system. Whether you prefer to use an executive planner or a spreadsheet, keep tabs on at least three dates: when you sent the thank-you note, when you are to call the recruiter for an interview and the interview date itself. What do you do in the meantime? The second principle is to evaluate your interviews at the job fair. The fair offers priceless opportunities to hone your communication and networking skills. Recall the questions given and how you responded. Were you clear? Convincing? Prepared? Or were you caught off-guard? Giddy with nerves? What questions kept popping up? Was there a document you wished you brought along? Find out what you did right and wrong, and apply the lessons to your future interviews.

Career Roadmap: After the Job Fair Now What? by Nelson T. Dy

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Third, keep on researching on the company you want to work for. Before the next interview, learn more about your prospective employer through its literature, website and contacts. I can't imagine an applicant asking the recruiter, "Umm, so what do you do here?" ... and the recruiter works for Coca Cola! Get to know as much as you can about the company: products, history, core values, mission, goals. Then show how you can be an asset to that company. After sending all those thank-you notes and going through all those interviews, what if nothing comes out of your efforts? My last advice is: Don't lose hope. Remember that the job fair is but one of the many ways to get a job. There are also career guidance centers, employment agencies, classified ads and the internet. However, the bulk of job opportunities are hidden and can be discovered only through networking. Ask the people you know for job leads: your parents, classmates, pastor or priest, neighbors, teachers. If you know the manicurist of your cousin three times removed, ask her, too. What do you have to lose?

Time to bring out paper and pen!

After the Job Fair--Now What?

(Part two )

Last week, I urged job hunters to write thank-you notes to the recruiters they met at the job fair. This column will take a closer look at the thank-you letter. If you heed the following principles, you will increase your being considered for employment as a result of the job fair. Overall, write the letter in a warm, professional manner. Don't be presumptuous and write the recruiter as you would your best bud. Please, please, watch your grammar. I have read letters where a past-tense verb is used instead of a noun, the sentences drag on and on, and Point B is placed before Point A. If written English is not your strong suit, ask a qualified person to edit your letter. Then sign up for remedial classes. I'm not kidding. You don't want the recruiter to

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say, "How come his English was so polished in his application letter, but now it's so poor since he's on board?" First, get the name of the recruiter and company right. Be absolutely scrupulous about this, down to the middle initial, if any. Many recruiters get turned off when they open your letter and the first line they see is their name all botched up. They will think, "If this applicant is sloppy in getting a job, how much more when they are in the job?" Think of that episode of Friends when Ross was getting married to Emily but he blurted out Rachel's name by mistake. Start with thanking the recruiter. Don't settle for a perfunctory opening. Be warm and write something like, "Thank you for taking time with me at the Jumpstart Job Fair yesterday. I certainly appreciate your time and attention in the midst of so many people seeking jobs." It is better if you tell the recruiter what you find significant about his company. "I particularly like what you said about XYZ Company as being..." It shows him that you have been paying attention in your first meeting... and he didn't waste his time with you after all! Express a strong interest to work for that company. I don't mean that you grovel for the job. But don't keep the recruiter guessing, "Does he want the job or not?" More: explain why you want to work for his company. Recruiters get weary of applicants who want the job simply for the sake of getting a paycheck. For example, you say how much you admire the company's core values and want to be a part of their dynamic team. State your qualifications that meet the recruiter's needs. Summarize the company's needs and explain why you are suitable for the job. This is where you reinforce how you sold yourself during the job fair interview. It is also a chance to add selling points you wished you said at the time. For example, show how you displayed leadership qualities in extra-curricular activities. Or how a summer job gave you the training or exposure for a related post in their company. Promise to call the recruiter's office to ask for an interview date... and keep that promise. Do not think that after giving your resume to the job fair recruiter, you simply sit down and wait for the phone to ring. After wading through a flood of applicants, he may have already forgotten about you. Therefore, take the pro-active, instead of passive, approach. Attach the appropriate resume. The resume is not a "one size fits all" document. After learning specific things about the prospective employer, tailor your resume accordingly. Highlight those that are relevant to him and delete those that are not. If they put a premium on problem-solving skills, list down your accomplishments that are evidence of this ability. If possible, include numbers but be ready to back them up. Skip personal stuff like "Interests: bungee jumping and anything pink."

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Attach other materials which you promised to give to the recruiter or which he asked of you. Usually, these are transcript of records, letters of recommendation or certificates of past employment. But be a cut above the rest and show samples of your work. For example, those applying for a writing job can attach photocopies of published pieces. Or those who want to earn their living in photography can bring along their portfolio. Thank the recruiter again. Leave a pleasant impression that makes him look forward to meet you. All things being equal, I would rather hire an applicant I like than one I don't. Lastly, persevere! Richard Nelson Bolles wrote a jobhunting book I heartily recommend, What Color is Your Parachute. He said that you may have to gather ninety-nine NOs before you get a YES on the hundredth try. So don't let a NO get you down. Think of a rejection as postponed success. Believe in yourself and in a God who stands ready to help. As you persevere, that YES may pop up sooner than you think! A personal note: One of the coordinators of the Jumpstart Job Fair told me how readers call up the STAR after reading my column. I also get emails from those who find my column very useful. Thank you all for such a warm response. I am putting my email address within this article: Keep those emails coming and I will try to answer as soon and best as I can.

Now on its third printing! Nelson T. Dy's book Your First Job: A Practical Guide for Success is the ideal gift for those who will be graduating from college or newly joining the workforce. Give them a head start with this book that's full of insights from seasoned Filipino executives. Comment or questions are welcome via

Published and distributed by OMF Literature. Available in bookstores nationwide or for online purchase at For inquiries, call 531.6635 or email

Career Roadmap: After the Job Fair Now What? by Nelson T. Dy

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