Job Search Secret: Trade Shows
As we’ve mentioned here before, about 80% of jobs are never advertised, so consider adding another useful tool to your job search toolbox: Trade Shows and Industry Association gatherings.
One of the best activities for locating unadvertised or hidden jobs is attending industry- or product-related trade shows. Because only 20% or so of jobs appear on the boards or a company web site, get a leg up on your competition and go after the 80% of jobs that few others are looking for. [Also, the Conference Board reports that "in April, there were 2.4 advertised vacancies posted online for every 100 persons in the labor force, down from a high of 2.9 in April 2007."]
In fact, CareerXroads recently conducted a study that concluded “12.3 percent of external hires come through job boards.” Take a look at the following “Sources of Hire” breakdown that came out of that study.
CareerXroads Sources of Hire
Some of their key findings include:
[Companies'] desire to reduce hires (and associated costs) attributed to third-party recruiters, newspapers and job boards, while increasing tactics connected to social networks and search engine marketing to how important referrals are to recruiting.”
Yahoo! has an impressive list of conventions and trade shows here. By drilling down in each category, you can locate the events of interest to you and make plans to mingle with your peers. This will help you accomplish a number of things:
- The first is obvious: networking. (or, as we called it in the old days, “bump & howdy”).
- Ensure that you are keeping up with changes and trends in your respective industry or niche. In many cases, general admission is free or fairly inexpensive. Be sure to check on the admission policy beforehand. Fees may also be tax deductible, so be sure to see if they qualify.
- Attending these shows will give you a good idea of the companies that may be hiring. If a company is in a position to rent booth space at these shows (which is not inexpensive), chances are good that you may be able to uncover a goldmine of hidden opportunities.
- See if you can correlate the attendee roster (these are usually online) to a company’s new or expanded marketing efforts. This, too, may indicate that a company has the budget to hire for certain market segments.
Research, research, research! Once you have a handle on the companies you plan to visit, store some fast facts and figures in your head so that when you meet with the reps at the show, you can show some credible knowledge and make the logical connection between your skillset and their needs. This will help you prepare your Elevator Pitch (see below).
- Check LinkedIn or other networking sites to see if you know or can be linked to employees of the companies attending the shows.
Plan to spend a full day at each show, and bring plenty of business cards. Make sure your biz cards reflect your LinkedIn or Facebook IDs along with a professional-sounding email address (rather than something like email@example.com).
Most importantly, be prepared to recite your 30-second elevator pitch. While you won’t be asking outright about job opportunities, you will be telling your industry peers (and potential future co-workers) who you are and what you do…in 30 seconds or less. Don’t have a stopwatch? Light a match. If your fingers start to burn before you’re done, you’ve gone over 30 seconds.
So, make plans to get out of the house and move away from your PC! While “social networking” is indeed beneficial, nothing beats the old-fashioned bump ‘n howdy.