Job fairs are so overrated! I went to one after college, and it didn’t help me one bit. But my network helped me land a job which I still have.
Now, if you found your first job – or any job for that matter – through a job fair, I’m not dissing you. I’m just saying that networking has served me far better than any job fair ever has. And I believe a great network will do the same for you.
That’s because personal connections get things done.
My First Chance to Land a Job
When I first started looking for teaching positions, I got some help from someone I knew at church. The children’s ministry director checked out my resume and got me an interview.
I’d only talked with her a few times. But she was kind and connected to my college.
In the end, that first interview didn’t pan out – at least, not in the form of a paying position. But the experience built up my confidence.
After graduation, I learned that my alma mater wanted a middle school English teacher. I knew the head of the department. She’d been one of my favorite teachers. I’m sure that connection was what got me another interview.
But I didn’t land a job that time either. Still, the superintendent, who remembered me, said he’d keep me in mind. He thought I’d be a better fit at the elementary school level since I’d studied elementary education.
Only a few weeks went by before I got a call from one of the principals. He was looking for a reading support teacher. I interviewed, and, finally, got a job!
The position was part time, but it was better than subbing. And it got my foot in the door.
Building More Connections
And, while I was at it, I decided to put my extra time to good use.
The district Athletic Director was looking for a junior varsity volleyball coach. I’d played in high school and college. He knew me – or had heard of me – and gave me a shot.
So I spent the rest of the year working with high school players and their parents.
Six months went by, and the end of the school year arrived. A full-time teaching position had opened up. The superintendent offered me a job as an elementary teacher in the building where I was working.
I enthusiastically accepted his offer, and that’s where I still am today.
Your Network’s Bigger Than You Think!
While job fairs do work, there are some things that only a network can do. The people you know can help you find a job and achieve your goals better than any recruiter. And that’s because they know you and want to help you succeed.
That’s why your job search should always start with the people who know you best.
Harvey Mackay, author of Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty, says that most of us underestimate our networks. We worry that we don’t know enough people.
This is especially true of introverts.
But have you thought of everyone who could help you?
- Friends of friends
- Your family
- Your family’s family
- People you know through church
- People you know through sports, clubs, volunteer organizations, etc.
- Classmates (grade school and college)
When you start listing the people you know, the size of your network will likely surprise you. It’ll build to a couple hundred – or thousand – people in no time.
And, again, the great thing about asking people you know for help is that they care about you. Most will be happy to help if you’ll only ask.
You can’t say the same thing about most recruiters who won’t know you from Adam.
There’s no relationship there.
So before you head off to the next job fair or recruiting event, stop and ask yourself:
“Have I tapped the full potential of my network?”
If not, there’s no better place to start!