By Andrea Sutherland (Fort Carson)October 25, 2012
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Thousands attended the Oct. 18 career fair at the Special Events Center, yet only a few dozen attended with insider knowledge on "how" to attend a career fair.
Bobby Adams was one of those insiders. While others wandered aimlessly through the rows of more than 80 employers and school recruiters, Adams was purposeful, only approaching those employers whose companies he had researched and had determined would be a good fit.
Adams, who plans on leaving the Air Force Reserve, said he began looking for work in September. He attended seminars through Fort Carson's Army Career and Alumni Program on resume writing and interviewing.
The day prior to the career fair, Adams participated in a day of workshops, including "How to attend a career fair." The workshops and career fair were offered in conjunction as part of ACAP's Transition Expo, a two-day event aimed at preparing servicemembers and veterans for employment outside the military.
"The unemployment rate is coming down, but it is still incredibly competitive," said Lyle Dickason, ACAP director and event organizer.
Dickason said more than 750 people attended the career fair. Approximately 50 attended the workshops the day prior.
The Transition Expo, Dickason said, was designed to help give those dedicated to the job search more knowledge on approaching employers.
"The minutiae makes a difference in how an employer perceives a potential employee," he said.
ACAP counselors and local professionals led the workshops, offering tips they'd experienced from their job searches or witnessed helping others.
"Do not smell your armpits on your way to an interview," said John Reid, ACAP counselor, as he gave his list of "Interview No-Nos."
Although Reid acknowledged many of his tips -- including not answering a cell phone during an interview, not asking for a ride home and having a professional email -- should be common sense, he's seen job seekers perform each blunder.
Kimberly Hessler, a certified career counselor, gave her advice in tackling a career fair.
"It is not all about the resume," she said. "The person who can grab (the employer's) attention and build a relationship is the one who will win in the end."
"At a career fair, I want someone to approach me with questions, but they should already know a little about (Colorado State Patrol)," said Maurice Harris, recruiter, CSP. "They have to know that law enforcement is the career for them. Ask me if you can do a ride along. Ask me where can I apply, what can I do to prepare? … Don't ask me 'What do you do?'"
The tips were appreciated by Adams.
"I've gone through a few seminars and each one I've learned something new," Adams said. "The biggest thing I learned was the process of not being aggressive and attacking a career fair, but being assertive and prepared."
With a background in law enforcement and human resources, Adams said when he approached a potential employer, he did so with specific jobs in mind, but stressed his flexibility.
"I tell them, 'This is what I want to do, but I have these additional skill sets," he said.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Robert Goldsmith, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, also prepared for the career fair. Prior to entering the fair, he read through the list of employers present, circling the names of the companies he was interested in.
"I don't need to talk to 103 people," he said. "I'm a logistics project management guy. All the companies I'm meeting with, logistics is applicable to all of them."
Goldsmith said that of all of the companies represented, he only needed to speak with seven.
"A number of people have been scheduled for interviews," Dickason said. "We feel good about it. It's something we will continue in the future."