PinPoint Talent is thrilled to be attending this year’s Technata job fair. As the team looks forward to what 2018’s event will bring, I find myself reflecting on my own experiences from last year’s event.
At Technata 2017, I was not yet part of the PinPoint Talent team. I was doing a contract placement for a tech consortium in Kanata, and with my contract coming to an end, I was keeping an eye out for new opportunities.
Though I was a marketing professional at the time, most of my experience so far had been with tech-related companies. Having a degree in Communication and an interest in tech, pursuing marketing opportunities in the ICT sector seemed a natural course to take. I worked in roles that required me to be part digital marketer and part technical writer. Of course, writing about different tech products required me to get to know these products thoroughly, and from there, I became more and more interested in working in the tech sector – especially considering Ottawa’s thriving tech community. I was astounded by the number of innovative tech companies popping up all over the city, especially in Kanata North. I knew attending Technata would be a fruitful experience, but I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Arriving at Technata for the first time was intimidating. As I said, an event like this was totally new to me. I had never attended a job fair, let alone one to the scale of Technata. Everywhere I looked, the walls were lined with booths. Every corner I turned, there were more companies and even more people. As I tried my best to navigate the scene, I spotted some familiar companies, but many more that I had never heard of. I couldn’t help but feel a little overwhelmed. Which companies should I talk to? How do I introduce myself? What if I say the wrong thing? How would I get a word in with all these other people here? Do I look awkward standing over here? These were the sort of thoughts running through my head. And on top of these questions, there was another big one that I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to know the answer to: are any of these companies looking to hire someone with my skills?
After getting my bearings, I began to move from booth to booth to chat with representatives from some of the companies that I recognized and was able to learn more about some of the larger names in tech and meet many of the passionate people who helped to drive these companies. Over the course of the few hours I spent at Technata, I was introduced to dozens of companies and, learned what kinds of technologies they were developing, and how these technologies were changing the lives of individuals and the tech community at large. And of course, I was able to ask who was hiring and what their open roles would entail.
After talking to dozens of different people, I found that most of the attendees were engineers, developers, project managers, and people who had a much deeper understanding and broader experience with technology and products than I did, which didn’t exactly help my nerves. I was starting to wonder if I had stepped too far outside my element and then I stumbled upon PinPoint Talent’s booth. I began chatting with Alex, a partner and recruiter at PinPoint, and learned a little bit about the company. I was intrigued to learn that they were a recruitment firm that specialized in working with tech companies, as I had only heard of more general recruitment firms, ones who didn’t necessarily cater to one particular field.
Soon after I began chatting with Alex, I discovered that PinPoint was looking to hire a marketing specialist. Alex took my resume, and I went on to attending the rest of the event. I tried not to get my hopes up about a potential job, but couldn’t help but be excited about where the conversation might lead.
I heard back the next day. First I talked on the phone with Alex and the other partners, and then we set up an in-person interview at their office. Going into the office for the interview was a great chance for me to get a better idea of the company’s culture and to meet the other team members. Rather than the typical run of the mill interview, I presented a marketing strategy that I had put together tailored to PinPoint Talent’s needs. After the interview and another in-person meeting, I was sent an offer, which I quickly accepted. I was thrilled to be diving into this new opportunity and getting to work with the PinPoint Talent team.
Technata turned out to be a great experience, and in the end, helped me to secure a job that I love. However, there were things that I could have done to be more prepared to attend the event. Here’s some tips I’ve put together for first-time attendees:
1. Do Some Research
Do your homework and figure out which companies will be attending. Try to learn a little bit about them and do some reading about the ones that you find particularly interesting. If you’re hunting for a job, it always helps if you do some extra research – that way you can impress the representatives from the company with your knowledge. Doing your homework also gives you an edge in finding out who is hiring, and for which roles.
2. Update Your Resume!
You never really need a reason to work on your resume – it’s always good to keep it up to date, if for no other reason to keep track of your professional accomplishments. If you do, however, need an incentive to clean up your CV, let Technata motivate you! You’ll want to feel as confident as possible about your resume and make sure you’ve done your fair share of proof-reading, especially when you may be handing out a lot of them.
3. Bring Ample Copies of Your Resumes and Business Cards
Yes, we know the world is going digital, but for a job fair like this, you’re going to want to make sure that you’ve printed off plenty of copies of your resume, and bring lots of business cards if you have them. Even if you’re not currently employed, there are lots of great templates that you can find to easily make a professional and aesthetically pleasing business card. I’d also recommend keeping them in a folder of some sort, as you’ll be doing lots of moving around, shaking hands, and indulging in some of the catering. The last thing you’ll want to do is hand in a resume that’s all crinkled up.
4. Take Notes
When you have a conversation with someone, get their card and make a note on it immediately after you talk to them. It’ll help you remember who was who at the end of the day. For example, write down things like “looking for software developer”, “follow up by email next week”, or “we talked about X and Y”. You’d be surprised how easy it is to start confusing people’s names and faces in your head by the time the day is over. After all, there are A LOT of different people that you’ll be talking to!
5. Dress Your Best
We’re not saying you should go out and drop money on a new outfit, but make sure you look professional and put together. If you put some extra effort into looking your best, you’ll probably find yourself feeling more confident as well.
As for all the above suggestions: Don’t let them make you nervous! Attending Technata was a very rewarding experience, one that I’m excited to attend again on March 28th. One year later, I’m still working with the company I met through this event and I’m loving it. I feel incredibly fortunate to be working in a role that excites and challenges me every day – and it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t stepped out of my comfort zone and headed to Technata.
Although the event did fulfill its purpose as a job fair, it was much more than that. It was about local businesses giving back to the community, and about professionals supporting one another. Even the companies who weren’t currently hiring took the time to come out, to talk to hundreds of people, and to really listen to their stories. Not everyone who makes their way to Technata this year is going to come out with a job, but that’s okay. Participating in community events and having genuine conversations with like-minded individuals has a way of being intrinsically valuable, even when there isn’t any kind of instant gratification. Sometimes, the most worthwhile part of attending a job fair is to have conversations with other job seekers, to have your voice heard, and to reassure yourself that you aren’t alone. Job seeking can be an incredibly emotional journey with lots of ups and downs, and sometimes talking to people in a similar situation can be a very validating experience. It’s also a strong reminder not to lose hope, even if you’ve been in the job search for a while, because whether it takes a few days, a few weeks or a few months, one of these companies (or maybe one that doesn’t even exist yet) is going to open up a position that you’ll be an excellent candidate for.
We’re hoping that this year’s Technata is even more fruitful than the last, and we hope to see you there.
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Written by Kira Braden