02/27/2019 by Carney Sandoe Staff |

Tips for First-Time Conference Candidates

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There's no sugarcoating it: attending one of our hiring conferences can be a whirlwind of an experience. Back-to-back interviews, sometimes with more than a dozen schools. Hundreds of other eager candidates competing for open positions. A room full of hiring contacts who could be filling your dream job.

Lucky for our candidates, attending a conference also means an opportunity to meet face-to-face with their Placement Team for a strategy session, interview tips, or a last-minute pep talk (see our last tip below!). We've been holding our conferences for a long time, and our Placement Team are experts in making sure their candidates feel prepared and ready to but their best foot forward. And, leading up to a conference, the lines of communication with your Placement Associate are open for you to have a check-in phone call or email conversation about your upcoming first conference appearance.

Also lucky for you, we've gathered some of the top tips our candidates have found useful ahead of attending their first event (yay you!).

Understand the Format

First and foremost, our hiring conferences are NOT job fairs. Schools do not have booths set up for you to pop by and drop your resume off. At all conferences, the format follows a schedule of consecutive 30-minute interview slots. There might be an opportunity for you to hand your resume to a school if your Placement Associate advises it's ok, but most schools prefer not to be approached by candidates who are not on their interview schedules.

Interviews are pre-scheduled starting about two weeks before each event (which is why it's so important to register early!). Sure, some interviews are added in the 24-48 hours before a conference, or even the day of the event, but making a decision to attend early is advisable.

Finally, it's important to understand that only schools can add you to their schedules. Candidates do not have the ability to add themselves or formally request a time slot (but you can send schools you're interested in a message letting them know of your interest…read more about that here).

Check Your Expectations at the Door

A lot of candidates expect full interview schedules. While that's not impossible, it's definitely not the norm and you shouldn't be disappointed when your schedule isn't full of 15-some different schools.

We get asked a lot how many is “average” or “normal” or “good.” But because every candidate is so unique and brings such different skills and assets to the table, and because the ideal English or biology teacher at one school might look completely different at another, we really have no way of saying what's “good.” Is two to three interviews good? Sure. It's more than you would have in a conventional job search process where you're only visiting one school in a day. Is more better? Of course, but don't consider your attendance at a conference a failure if you don't have a full schedule.

Bring a Snack

This is a really simple tip, but a crucial one. While some of our larger conferences will have snacks throughout day, lunch is generally not provided. Hopefully you're already getting a sense that these events can be like running a marathon, so you can see why it's important to stay fueled for the day. A granola bar, some trail mix, or a banana are all good, small items you can pack with you and munch on discretely in between interviews.

Plan for Lunch

Speaking of lunch (anyone else hungry?!), make sure to give yourself time to eat lunch by blocking off a time slot on your schedule. At smaller conferences, lunch might be provided on a first-come-first-served basis, but overall it's best to plan for a quick bite nearby. Do your research on spots around the area the hotel is in ahead of time.

Don't Panic if You Left Your Resume at Home

Schools already have your resume on file if you're on their schedule. Many schools will even request that we print their candidates' resumes off for them so they have printed copies as well. If you're still feeling nervous about not having a hard copy, all our conferences will have computers and printers for your use.

Dress Comfortably and Professionally

This is another no brainer, but it's worth emphasizing. Balance is the key word, here. Should you be comfortable and wearing items of clothing that make you feel good? Of course! But you also have to remember that you're on a job interview. Just because it's happening in a hotel ballroom and not on a school campus doesn't mean the general rules of dressing professionally don't apply.

Schedule a Time to Meet with Your Placement Associate

We mentioned above that hiring conferences are great chances to meet with your Placement Team to discuss your job search in person. Because sometimes dozens of other candidates are trying to do the same thing, it can be helpful to pre-schedule (see a theme here?) a time to chat with your Associate so you're not using your free time to track him or her down or waiting for them to finish talking with another candidate or school.

Phew, that was a lot! Hopefully our hiring conferences make a little more sense now, and you feel prepared to have an optimal experience. If you're attending a conference for the first time and still have questions, your Placement Team is just a phone call or an email away. We'll see you at our next event!

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