Wednesday, January 13, 2010

recap of LIS Online Career Fair 1/12/10

LIS Online Career Fair 1/12/10 (attendance hosted by SLA-NY at Baruch’s Newman Library)

My recap:

SLA-NY Chapter generously provided group attendance (free of charge for SLA-NY members), space and food and drink for this all-day event, at Baruch. The rooms provided were comfortable and the refreshments much appreciated – thank you SLA-NY!

I attended these presentations: the Keynote address, Putting Yourself Out There (Networking), Interviewing, Continuing Professional Development, and Common Mistakes Job Hunters make. I felt this Career Fair was a disappointment overall. Most of the information was good and accurate, but I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know. It wasn’t advertised as such, but I felt it was really for students and newbies/recent grads. Many of the people in F2F attendance were not new to the field but mid-career professionals; they already know what Twitter and LinkedIn are.

The length of the presentations was O.K.; under an hour each with ten minutes in between presentations. Lunch was a half hour and there was another half hour break later in the afternoon; I would have preferred a full hour for lunch. The sound quality was very poor during the Keynote; audio was lost completely for stretches of time and towards the end of the Keynote the audio was so choppy we could not understand what was being said. Audio was iffy all day, and there was also a great variation of volume for different speakers throughout the day. At least one presenter didn’t seem to understand that she’d have to speak right into the microphone in order to be heard and understood, even after being told that attendees couldn’t hear her. This was very frustrating. We in person at Baruch didn’t have trouble with the slides for each presentation, but people attending from elsewhere posted that they were having ongoing problems seeing the slides.

People were participating (via a chat box) from all over the U.S. and some of their comments and questions were…interesting. One person asked, “what is LinkedIn?” and someone else asked, “what does the ‘G’ in ‘GSLIS’ stand for?” During the presentation on Continuing Professional Development people were asking, what does “CPD” mean?! (It was the title of the presentation!) Other people asked questions like, “should I wear a suit or sweater to an interview?” and “are there libraries that have hiring freezes?” I have to wonder how these folks found themselves at this career fair and why they were attending.

Some of the advice given was, in my opinion, not sound. For example, one attendee asked via chat box (repeatedly) if he/she should mention divorce in a job interview as a reason for not completing a degree, and others asked about telling an interviewer about considerations necessary for the applicant for religious or medical reasons. The advice given was ‘yes’ to mention the divorce, religion and medical needs and I disagree strongly with that – it is not a good idea to mention any of those things in a first interview. The religious and medical needs can be addressed once a job offer has been made; the divorce should not be brought up at all. In a different workshop, people who have been laid off were advised to ‘take some time off’ from job hunting, to heal’ – unless we are talking about a very brief period of time (days at the most), that advice can really hurt a job hunter, and may serve to prolong unemployment further, unnecessarily.

Near 4:00 (about two hours before the event finished) I saw one woman putting on her coat. I asked if she was leaving. She said yes, that the career fair ‘wasn’t what she thought it was going to be’ and that the content was “thin”. I can’t put it any better than that.

Note to some of those who attended in person at Baruch: this was, among other things, an opportunity to network F2F with other professionals in the field. Like it or not, you are making an impression on the other attendees. It is probably not a good idea to

-arrive late

-dress very casually (a suit is not required; at least’ business casual’ is appropriate)

-engage in constant complaining, venting, and expressing frustration or desperation about job hunt or job prospects (including trying to scam a free resume review); this behavior can derail a job search and diminish the willingness of potential contacts to help you. Save the venting for when you are with your friends and family.

-bring a small child who whimpers and/or cries throughout workshops

-fall asleep

Those are my thoughts on this Career Fair. I would love to hear what others’ experiences were. Thanks for reading.

Ellen Mehling (Ellen M.) is a librarian/instructor/writer living and working in NYC and (among other things) regularly teaches job hunting workshops for information professionals. She is also one of the Assistant Organizers of the NY Librarians MeetUp Group.


  1. I enjoyed the workshop as I assumed that there would NOT be much new material. I did enjoy Meredith Farkas' presentation on social media. Her talk distinguished the varying usefulness of blogs, wikis and programs in-between. One could see how she created her future by dedicating herself to creating her own destiny by branding herself through blogging about a genuine passion. Another practical session was a review of professional education and continuing education opportunities. Some of the names of organizations and links that were provided were new. Again, I was under the understanding that this was focused on current SILS students, recent grads or librarians who have been out of the loop and wish to re-enter the job market. If I had not attend this F2F, I still would have derived some benefit. To date I have not yet participated in a webinar that did not have some telecommunication failures. I would certainly like to see follow-up, e.g. interview mock-ups that would simulate the various types of interviews alluded to in one of the sessions.

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  3. Perhaps if there is a good discussion and feedback they can improve it for the next Career Fair, or have separate tracks for students/newbies and more seasoned librarians. Also a twitter hashtag would be helpful, and some way of providing feedback on the Career Fair website or via a survey to attendees.