With hiring conferences fast approaching (FORUM/Atlanta is two weeks from today, with FORUM/Los Angeles and FORUM/Boston close behind), we’ve spent a lot of time giving you pointers about what to do. You know the basics, you know how to choose which conferences to attend, and you know that you can always ask us for help, whether via phone, email, or weekly Twitter chat.
But do you know what to avoid? Here it is, and we hope it helps: the CS&A hiring conference don’t list.
1. Don’t Show Up Empty-Handed
If you were interviewing on-campus, you’d make sure you had copies of your resume and any other appropriate documentation. The same is true at our hiring conferences. Though your interviews will be abbreviated (you’ll have a 30-minute time slot with each school), these are official, formal interviews. Treat them as such—bring copies of your resume, letters of recommendation if appropriate, and any supplementary documents that could help your candidacy (e.g., a copy of your portfolio if you teach studio art).
Furthermore, bring some entertainment for yourself. It could be a long day, and you might have some time on your hands between interviews. Bring a laptop or tablet so you can check the conference message center and keep up-to-date with messages and interview requests from schools. Bring a book, a magazine, or even some papers to grade in case of down-time.
2. Don’t Go MIA
Our conferences last all day—registration for our local events begins at 7am, and interviews extend from 8am until 5pm. Our multi-day events last even longer. It’s understandable that you might not be able to attend the entire event. Don’t go missing, though—make sure you mark your availability accurately on your schedule. It can be frustrating for a hiring contact if s/he attempts to schedule an interview with you and you don’t show up. This would only reflect poorly on you, so ensure you are where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there.
3. Don’t Wing It
Our hiring conferences are wonderful opportunities to meet a variety of schools in one place at one time. You can use these events to your advantage to showcase your talents and indicate your interest in particular schools. Don’t “wing” the conferences—prepare appropriately. You should make sure to be in touch with your Placement Associate prior to the conference; s/he can help you reach out to appropriate schools and discuss your expectations for the event. You should also use the online conference module to review the list of schools attending and do your homework about the ones that interest you.
4. Don’t Say “No”
You might enter a conference with a specific idea about the schools that interest you—and those that don’t. Don’t dismiss or cancel interviews, though—we’ve had candidates surprise themselves by finding schools they’d never considered to be great fits. We’ll reiterate what we advise throughout the job-search process: keep your options open, and be as flexible as possible.
5. Don’t Interrupt
We understand: conferences are exciting, stimulating experiences. Prospective employers from fantastic schools abound, and you want to speak with everyone.
Remember, though: this is a formal event. Present yourself well by remaining polite and respectful. Schedule time to talk with a hiring contact at a school that interests you, or talk to a Placement Associate for help. Do not interrupt a hiring contact, particularly while s/he is interviewing another candidate.
6. Don’t Dress Down
We can’t say it enough: these hiring events are opportunities for you to present yourself well to a plethora of prospective employers. Don’t treat a conference like an informal networking event, because that’s not what it is. Stay professional throughout, starting with the way you dress. Wear business attire: a blouse and skirts or slacks for ladies, a suit or jacket for gentlemen.
7. Don’t Freak Out
A bit like speed-dating, hiring conferences can be overwhelming and exhausting (and also—maybe less like speed-dating—incredibly rewarding). If you let yourself, you could end up stressing. Don’t. If you show up to the conference with gaps in your schedule, that’s okay—not everyone will have a full day of interviews, and not every school attending the conference will be a right fit for you. If you’re not immediately offered a job or a follow-up interview, don’t panic—these are first-round interviews, and the school needs some time to consider your candidacy. Focus on what you can do: present yourself to as many schools as possible to keep your options open. At the end of the day, all it takes is one.