Some people are out of work, some need better work, and some have just collected their college degrees and need to start their working lives. For all these people, there will be ample opportunity to find a job at either or two career fairs taking place next week.

Rider University will host the Mercer Chamber’s Career Connections Expo on Wednesday, May 27, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Bart Ludeke Center, while Rutgers New Brunswick plays host to New Jersey Collegiate Career Day — the largest career fair in the state — on Thursday, May 28, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Student Center and Brower Commons, on College Avenue.

Cost to attend both fairs is free. For information about the Rider expo, contact the Mercer Chamber at 609-689-9960, or visit www.mercerchamber.org. For information about the Rutgers job fair, E-mail njccd@careers.rutgers.edu, or visit http://careerservices.rutgers.edu.

Rider. Career Connection Expo is aimed primarily at Mercer County residents. According to the event webpage, its purpose is twofold — help people get jobs and help them hone the skills they will need to get them somewhere else. Starting at 8:30 a.m., the expo will offer a series of workshops and clinics, beginning with “The Power of Networking.” Other workshops include a resume clinic, job hunting strategies, and stress management.

The expo will also feature “Tips On Improving Your Marketability,” a one-hour workshop beginning at 11:30 a.m. that discusses interviewing, etiquette, appearance, and the importance of doing research on the company you are applying to. A second hour-long workshop, “Career Change Opportunities,” begins at 12:45 p.m. and explores options for new career paths — teaching, healthcare, and starting a business.

A two-hour session, “What’s the Next Step?” kicks off at 2 p.m., when professionals are available to meet one-on-one with attendees. Throughout the day exhibitors and companies will be set up in the Cavalla Room, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Rutgers. Collegiate Career Day is open to the public, and the school’s Office of Career Services is expecting 130 employers looking to fill full-time positions and internships. A list of employers registered for the event can be found at careerservices.rutgers.edu/pdf/njccdmay09.pdf.

Counselors advice attendees bring multiple copies of their resumes and be prepared for an interview. The school will not collect resumes on the day of the fair, however.

Whichever fair you attend, Rutgers offers a set of tips for a successful job search.

Emphasize content-specific knowledge as well as transferable skills. Employers are looking for people who can make an immediate contribution. Skills such as communication, problem-solving, and analysis are always in demand but your knowledge-based skills might distinguish you from other candidates and be interpreted as a way to make an immediate contribution.

Focus on building your skills and experience. Your first or second job will likely not be in the industry you settle into long-term. Try not to limit yourself to only searching for the ideal job, but keep in mind that everyone starts somewhere and builds from there.

It is more important than ever focus on your strengths, not just what’s available in the job market. Look for opportunities to leverage your skills. And give specific examples of your accomplishments, not a general job description.

Consider relocating. Be willing, at least for awhile, to relocate to gain experience with a longer-term goal. Keep focused on what is in your control versus forces beyond your control. Keep an open mind about options and employers and cast a wide net.

Consider a smaller step. In order to earn a living, you might need to temporarily consider jobs that underutilize your college education. Try to find evening or weekend jobs to make money or pay off loans, then volunteering during the daytime hours for organizations where you can enhance your job-related skills.

Follow the money. The stimulus money, that is, because it will lead you to jobs over the next few years.

Also, check out temporary agencies as a gateway into organizations or fields of interest. It can allow a foot in the door, and provide the chance to network and prove yourself.

Do your research. Find out what the entry-level positions and the hiring process and position are for the industry or organization you want to work for. Don’t just broadly apply for jobs, know about the companies you want to work for. And know how to market your skills to them.

Be courteous. Write “thank you” notes to those who help you, and keep them apprised of your progress. You will be remembered favorably for your courtesy.

Prepare for competition. Put yourself in the employer’s shoes — then ask what you would want to see, and how you would want to be approached? Think like the employer and then evaluate yourself, your resume, your approach.

Work for that job. Finding a job is one of the hardest jobs you’ll ever have. Be willing to do different kind of work than you believe would be ideal, or to work in a different industry than you had originally planned on. Consider a lower starting salary than you had hoped for, or even accept a part-time job rather than a full-time one.

Be optimistic and persistent. Employers still respond to job seekers who make the extra effort to write follow-up thank you notes, and continue to reconfirm interest.

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