Meet Sam: a Cleared Job Fair job seeker with an active security clearance seeking new career opportunities

Meet Sam. Sam is a security cleared job seeker living in Northern Viginia who has attended numerous job fairs beyond our own in the past 15 months. When we met him at our past Cleared Job Fair on January 21, 2010 at the Westin Dulles, Sam was one of the very first job seekers to arrive. “I got here about an hour early,” Sam shared, adding: “The early bird always gets the worm.”

Sam, a configuration and data management professional, has been unemployed since August 2008. “Well, my wife says I’m unemployed,” says Sam. “I like to think of myself more as ‘semi-retired‘.” This job seeker also self-describes himself as being “old school” and admits he’s not really very web savvy, per se, but does go online frequently to check out various industry job boards geared towards security cleared opportunities. He also likes using LinkedIn but admits that is his extent of the whole social media craze.

What attracted us to approach Sam was a folder he was carrying around under his arm. Turns out this folder was more of a job seeking dossier with extremely meticulous notes about which job boards he had visited, which jobs he had recently applied to and which companies or recruiters he had sent a resume to in the past year! Folks, we are not talking about scribbled notes here, no. We are talking about typed up spreadsheets documenting a complete job searching process. “I like to trace back my steps and know whom I’ve spoken with, what tasks are on hold (such as follow up with a recruiter or sending in additional information) and what events need my immediate attention.”

Sam’s folder also contains various resume versions. “While I have one standard resume, sometimes you have to tailor the resume for the position you are applying to which, as a result, requires any job seeker to carry around different resume versions.”

Beyond the detailed notes, spreadsheets, lists and varied resume versions, Sam’s folder also contained employer information. “Employers at these job fairs like to give out *a lot* of paperwork! It really is a lot of paperwork … you have to find a way to keep it all organized.”

We also noticed Sam was carrying around our Cleared Job Fair Job Seeker Handbook. “This handbook is absolutely necessary,” Sam shared. “I personally do not like going into the job fair cold. I like to be very prepared. I also like to know which employers are at the job fair and this handbook helps me to learn more about the exhibiting companies. The handbook also tells me where the employer booths are located; a detail I find very helpful as it helps me to mentally map which booths to visit first.”

Needless to day, we liked Sam! He’s the epitome of what a security cleared job seeker should be doing not just at a job fair but during an employment search. He’s organized, motivated and full of initiative.

Sam was kind enough to share some parting tips for Cleared Job Fair attendees and job seekers alike. Sam’s tips include the following wise nuggets of job seeking wisdom:

  • Get organized! You have to keep track of all the employer and job information in some way, shape or form.
  • Bring tons of resumes! You’re going to need them … everyone wants them and you will run out quickly if you don’t have enough on hand.
  • Bring business cards! Yes your contact information is on your resume but a business card is nimble, small and easy to carry.
  • Get names! Jot down the names of folks you meet. Collect contact information whenever possible if business cards are not given to you.
  • Get phone numbers! Email is great but good old fashioned phone calling can’t hurt either.

We have one more tip of our own to add to Sam’s great advice above and that is …

We want to thank Sam for his time and for sharing his story not just with us but with all of you. Sam’s had a few solid “nibbles and bites” (his term) in the past few months and we sincerely wish him the very best success in his job seeking adventures!

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subroto mukerji

I am extremely concerned not for Sam but for me. Sam is one step above the food chain of people seeking employment. He has a clearance and he has experience. And yet he is unemployed since August 2008 and still remains unemployed. He has had only a few nibbles and bites for two years.

That means a person like me — no clearance and some experience has absolutely no chance in the job market given Sam’s experience.