Let's face it, when you're unemployed in the US, everything's against you. People assume you're stupid, lazy, uneducated, that you lost your job for good reason, since talented people are never fired blah blah blah. You can fill in the rest of the inane horsesh*t people spout later. Not to mention, despite all of the "follow your bliss" crap sold to us on t-shirts and bumper stickers and political campaigns, we as Americans tend to rate one's success by one's career. So, for example, when someone says they're leaving their six-figure job to "spend more time with their family," we know that they got the axe. We also know that they are going to spend one carefully-staged photo shoot with said family... and then they will be frantically job-hunting to get away from their lovely family. Which brings me back to job fairs. (See what I did there?)
In my opinion, there are two
1. You want to practice the fine art of pitching yourself, your talents and your experience to strangers;
2. You'd like better information on which companies in certain industries are hiring, so that you can then research these companies, see what types of people they're looking for, and most importantly, whom you might know who is employed by one of these companies and thus start networking.
If neither of those options apply to you, if you were seriously thinking of going because oh, you know, you might get a job...I'm going to be forced to say to you what my beloved father, Mr. Zimmerman, used to say to me when I was an obnoxious teenager (#redundant): "I'm not angry Carlota, I'm just disappointed." Which was so much worse! I used to beg him to be angry, since anger eventually passes...guilt remains forever.
Because, see, the problem with job fairs is not only are you unlikely to get a job, you are instead very likely to lose your self-confidence and to become depressed, as you waste your time standing in line to "interview" for a "job" as a telemarketer. And once you start losing your self-confidence...forget it. When your self-confidence is gone, you are doomed. No matter how great your education, or your previous experience, no matter how awesome you used to be, when you lose your self-confidence, you'll start deciding that you'll never get a good job again, that you're stupid, that you'll never be a success, that it all was a fluke, that the Teabaggers are the last resort of American patriotism, and that Kim Khardashian really must be a talented and lovely girl if Kanye is into her. And when you believe that noise, then it's true. You make it true.
You give up on yourself, you stop thinking creatively, you stop being reasonable, you stop networking...and you make your worst fears come true. Because what's the difference between someone who says, "I'd love to write a book," but never does it, and the
Listen, I'm a crazy cat lady: you know this. Right now, as I type, there's an irritable, senior citizen cat sleeping in one of my kitchen cabinets, thus blocking my access to my tea cups. There's another one sleeping at my feet, who bites my toes, with an indignant expression, whenever I move. I talk to bodega cats. Two of the cats have cat passports fer Chrissake. (They had passports before former President George W. Bush had a passport!) But even I, if I were friends with the authors of Why Cats Paint, would have said, "No. This is a bad idea, like taking that mother-daughter break-dancing class was a bad idea. Stop it." Unfortunately, I was not there.
So you see, confidence is everything! Confidence is why you decide you can take charge of your life, instead of remaining stuck. Confidence is why you eventually succeed or fail.
And so if you go to these job fairs, and experience the fun, the joy of waiting in endless lines to spend a whopping 5 minutes "engaging" with someone who can barely bother to make eye contact; if you go to a career fair and end up putting in applications to be a security guard or work at a national chain of dollar stores....yeah, your confidence is really going to be off-the-charts after that.
If you want some constructive alternatives to wasting your time at a job fair or writing a cat book, email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org!