As mentioned previously, you can expect a lot from companies at job fairs. But what about other job-seekers? Essentially job fairs draw in all kinds of people: some that you would expect and some that you wouldn’t. Here are five (albeit exaggerated) types you might see prowling a startup job fair:
The Ivy-Leager / Tailored Suit. These will jump out very fast at job fairs, and be prepared for them as they will seem massively intimidating. Whether its their immaculately tailored suit, their monogrammed attaché case, their engraved business card holder, or the fact that their university’s shield is stamped or even affixed to their leather file folder with a brass plate, these are some intimidating folks. In most situations, their experience at their top-tier schools have awarded them with a few advantages, one being having their university on their folder (which is always, always leather in my experience) and often having incredible speaking abilities. The one advantage over a tailored-suit is often the ego of the tailored-suit: if they are humble and mind-numbingly smart, you’re just going to have to try your darndest to impress the pants off the recruiter after they meet with one of these. However if a tailored suit with a big ego comes up and annoys the recruiter, you will have a chance to put your name on the map by being the most humble charming person they have met all day. Not sure what a tailored suit looks like? Think of Obama. That fancy and impressive, just unemployed.
The Casual Friday. The casual friday is an easy spot at startup job fairs: t-shirt and jeans, girly top and leggings, or even shorts and a polo shirt are all favorites of casual Fridays. Though they may look uncompetitive in their alarming laid-back get-up, one thing to consider as you wait behind them to talk to a recruiter is that they may have extensive startup experience already. Sometimes what you dress your resume in outweighs the clothes you toss on in the morning, and in the case of many casual Fridays, their resumes are about as spick-and-span professionally terrifying as they come: whether its top-of-the-class GPAs, extensive experience at a Google/Yahoo/Spotify etc, or the ability to code in every language thinkable, beware the ironic t-shirt. Not sure what I mean by a ‘casual friday’? Think any cast member of Big Bang Theory.
The Well-Seasoned. The well-seasoned or ‘more mature’ applicant pool adopt qualities of the other groupings sometimes: there are well-seasoned casual Friday, well-seasoned tailored-suiters, and even stand alone seasoned veterans of the job fair. These individuals are often in the same suit they’ve had for years and can be the most well-spoken of the attendees mainly because they’ve been through hell and high water searching for jobs. Whether it’s a former finance guy looking to switch careers, a female business analyst looking to take her talents to a young startup, or just some cooky-but-awesome coder looking to learn new programming languages these are by not mean ‘old birds’ and should not be dismissed so easily.
The Dad’s Suit / Mom’s Pumps. There is nothing wrong with wearing you dad’s suit or your mother’s pumps to a networking event. In some cases, it can come off as charming. However at job fairs what you will see from these individuals are poorly-fitted jackets, too-big father’s shoes, ‘been through hell’ pumps, and well-abused business attaché cases. It’s not so much that wearing your father’s suit or your mother’s seasoned shoes is such a bad thing, but keep in mind this will make you stick out in a crowd of tailored suits and business goblins.
The Business Goblin. Now I use this term affectionately, as I have heard people proudly call themselves ‘business goblins’, and what this term refers to is the game-faced well suited individual that has managed to perfect the art of looking thoroughly professional while remaining approachable. Goblins dress in just enough suit to blend in with the professionals, and just enough sass to jump out at recruiters. For women, this might mean a tastefully placed professional watch or accent piece that isn’t super girly (but exudes feminine qualities). I envision Barbara Corcoran as the epitome of femmefab business goblin, and likewise the classic Don Draper as the male counterpart.