02/05/2024 by Carney Sandoe Staff |
The Ultimate Guide to CS&A Hiring Conferences
It’s our favorite time of year at CS&A: hiring conference season! Every year from January through April, our faculty placement team boards planes, trains, and automobiles to host a series of hiring conferences across the country. For candidates, there’s a lot to learn about attending a hiring conference, and how best to prepare for success before, during, and after the event. We’re here to help. Check out our ultimate guide on attending a CS&A Hiring Conference!
What exactly is a CS&A hiring conference?
In short: a CS&A hiring conference is an incredible opportunity for a high volume of job-seeking candidates and hiring schools to meet in one place at one time. Each conference is a scheduled interviewing event, where schools can interview candidates in 30-minute increments. While not exactly “networking” events, CS&A hiring conferences come with plentiful opportunities to network with other educators, school contacts, and the CS&A hiring team.
Where and when are the hiring conferences in 2024?
This year, we’re hosting seven hiring conferences:
- FORUM/DEIB in Philadelphia on January 26-27
- FORUM/Los Angeles on February 2
- FORUM/Boston on February 9-10
- FORUM/Atlanta on February 23
- FORUM/New York City on March 8
- FORUM/San Francisco on March 15
- FORUM/Washington, DC on April 12
Two of our conferences—FORUM/DEIB and FORUM/Boston—are national in scope, and schools from all across the country attend these events. Our other five events are more regional, drawing schools from the surrounding areas.
How do I register, and how much does it cost?
Registration is open for all active CS&A candidates via CandidateConnect. Conference registration is absolutely free! If you are interested in becoming a candidate, you can do so online by visiting our application.
Before the event
Registration and Pre-Conference To-Dos
There’s a lot you can do to prepare for a hiring conference, even before you set foot in the hotel ballroom where the event takes place. Here are our top tips and how-tos.
Connect with your placement team
When you register for a conference, your profile will be visible to every school that has registered for the event. Schools can reach out directly to schedule interviews with you. It can be frustrating (and even a little frightening) to have to depend on schools to make the first move. Before you solidify your conference attendance, it might be worth having a conversation with your placement team to make sure attending a particular conference makes sense for your specific job search.
Book travel and accommodations
We offer discounted room rates at our conference hotels, so we encourage candidates to book their travel and accommodations as soon as possible. You can find hotel information for each conference on our website.
If possible, be transparent with your current school
There’s no way to attend a conference “confidentially”—if you’re registered, any attending school will be able to view your profile online through our conference module. That means that if you’re interested in exploring new job opportunities, you may need to have an honest conversation about your job-seeking intentions with your current school before you register.
Navigate the Conference Module
About two weeks before the conference, you’ll receive an email from Conference Director, Kim Garner granting you access to that event’s Conference Module: your digital conference dashboard. Note that the Conference Module is a separate site from CandidateConnect, and it’s the hub of your conference experience. This is the place you’ll visit to view a list of attending schools, to update your own availability, and to send and receive messages to and from other conference attendees. Separate usernames and passwords will be assigned for the conference module.
Mark your availability
It’s imperative that you mark your availability accurately, so you don’t miss a potential interview. Not arriving until 10am? Make sure you’ve blocked off the morning, so schools don’t schedule you for a 9am interview slot. Need to take a Zoom call at 2pm? Mark yourself as “unavailable” during that time. Don’t forget to factor in time for a lunch break, too.
Review attending schools (and do your research!)
Head to the Conference Module to review a full list of attending schools. You can view the positions each school is hiring for by clicking the “View Open Positions” tab in the module. Note: the position list may not be fully complete, as some schools have listed their positions confidentially. Remember to research attending schools, and make a list of the ones that are particularly appealing to you. Don’t overlook schools that don’t captivate you at first glance, though—our conferences are often home to the first meeting between perfect-fit schools and candidates who might not otherwise have considered applying.
Check out the message center
Check the conference message center early and often: here, you’ll receive important information and updates from the CS&A team as well as outreach and interview invitations from hiring schools. You can even connect with other attendees through the Bulletin Board feature of the module (e.g., to carpool or find a mock interview buddy).
While you can’t proactively schedule interviews with schools, you can proactively reach out to schools of interest through the message center. Remember that messages you send via the Conference Module are just that: messages, not full-length cover letters. Each message has a 780-character limit, or roughly a paragraph of text.
When you’re reaching out to a school, be concise, be direct, be specific, and be memorable—and don’t overdo it with multiple messages to busy hiring contacts.
Preparing for Your Interviews
Interviews are the heart of the CS&A hiring conference experience. While they’re just like any interview you might have with a school, they’re also unique: they take place in a crowded hotel ballroom, surrounded by other applicants, and they’re capped at 30 minutes. Preparing for success on interview day takes a little additional effort.
Check your interview schedule often
Schools handle interview scheduling in different ways. Your interview schedule is a dynamic entity, and it can (and likely will!) change up to and even during the event. Make sure you know where you’re going and whom you’re meeting, and continue to check your email and the Conference Module to ensure you don’t miss a potential interview. You can also reach out to your placement associate to help you fill open slots in your scheduled on the day of the event.
Keep an open mind
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again—it’s really important to keep an open mind at these events. Unless you’re absolutely certain you would never consider a particular school, accept all the interviews that make their way onto your schedule. You never know which conversations will surprise and delight you.
It goes without saying that it’s important to prepare and practice for an interview. When you prep for a hiring conference, make sure you’re particularly cognizant of the quick timeframe for your interviews. 30 minutes can go by very quickly, so make sure you can steer the conversation and reference the most salient parts of your experience. Check out more detailed tips on how to prepare for this unique interview format here.
If you need to cancel at the last minute…
If an emergency comes up and you won’t be able to attend the conference (or will be late enough to miss an interview), call the emergency number you’ll receive prior to the event, and send your placement team an email. Whatever you do, don’t go MIA: it won’t reflect well on you, either to the schools you’ve left hanging or to your placement team.
During the event
Conference day is exciting, exhilarating, and overwhelming. Here’s what to expect, where to go, and what to do throughout the day.
Where (and when) to go
We advise arriving a bit earlier than your first indicated interview opening. This will give you some time to take in the scene, find a spot to camp out, and get in the zone before your interview(s). You’ll receive details about where to go for each specific event. Registration typically opens at 7am, and interviews run throughout the day. We advise that you do not make any plans after the conference, so that you can keep your schedule flexible should you be able to meet with any particular schools later in late afternoon.
What to bring
There’s not much you’ll physically need at the conference. You should come dressed professionally—this is not an informal networking event; it’s an interview opportunity. Your attire should therefore reflect the gravity of the meeting and should be professional and polished. We recommend bringing a (charged!) laptop or tablet, a few additional copies of your resume, and a snack or two. We’ll have coffee, snacks and water available throughout the day, but lunch will not be provided. Feel free to check out our blog about places to eat in the area.
What to expect
A CS&A conference isn’t really like any other professional event. It’s not a job fair, and it’s not a networking event—it’s an interview event. A day in the life of a candidate at a conference will always look different depending on your search. However, here is what to expect.
What will it look like?
Expect to see rows of tables lined up one after the other. Each school will have a designated table, and you’ll approach for your interview at the designated time. Each interview slot is only 30 minutes long, so it’s essential to be punctual.
How many interviews should I expect?
It really depends—on your subject area, your preferred geographic locations, your level of experience, and the specific event you’re attending. If you have even one interview, we think that’s cause for celebration. Try not to compare your schedule to other candidates’—everyone’s job search is different, and what constitutes a “good” number of interviews varies widely.
What are the interviews like?
They’re both familiar and foreign—just like a typical initial interview you might have over the phone or on Zoom, and also kind of like speed dating! Interviews that go “well” typically lead to an invitation to campus. This is an early but important step in the hiring process. It’s important to be efficient in your interview time slot, but it’s also critical to be memorable. Try to differentiate yourself with a unique story, anecdote, or perspective, and make sure to ask for next steps before you wrap up your meeting.
Can I approach schools if I don’t have an interview scheduled?
The short answer is: it depends. Schools likely have full schedules, and approaching a school’s table uninvited may cut into another candidate’s interview time. A better approach is to find a member of your placement team and connect with them about any schools of real interest that have not reached out to you to schedule an interview. They may have a better idea of the situation, and whether it makes sense to introduce yourself if and when the timing is right.
Can I talk to my placement associate?
You can, and you should! Conferences are excellent opportunities for candidates to update their placement teams on their progress and have productive, strategic conversations about their job search. We always welcome discussions with candidates and are easy to find (we all wear nametags, and we’re the ones in the teal vests!).
After the event
Once the conference ends, there’s more work to be done. Make sure you reach out to each school with which you met to thank them for meeting you and to follow up with any next steps. It’s also not a bad idea to schedule a post-conference meeting with your placement associate, so you can strategize about the future of your search after the event.
Conference days are some of our favorite days of the year—and we’re confident they can be yours, too. Get prepared, get excited, and get going—we’re excited to see you at one or more of our events this year!
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