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Prep for Success With MOAA’s Networking Event Checklist

Prep for Success With MOAA’s Networking Event Checklist
A scene from last year's Military and Veteran Networking Forum at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Jennifer Milbrett/for MOAA)

Calling all current and former military members, military spouses, and current or former federal employees: MOAA is hosting an evening networking forum at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Sept. 19. Features include an impressive lineup of keynote speakers and a range of national companies offering a wide array of nationwide career opportunities. Additional details are available here.

View this event as a workday: Energy and enthusiasm, combined with organizational familiarity, will break you out from the herd of rivals. Consider the following points as you prepare:

  • Introduce yourself to employers with your 30-second commercial as you present your résumé. Highlight your employment goal and relevant experience. Always mention the names of people you know who work for the company.

  • Keep the 30-second commercial like a PowerPoint presentation -- too much information and it loses its meaning. End with a question to turn this exchange into a two-way conversation with the recruiter or company representative.

  • Look for ways to align your pitch with the company culture. For example: “safety, caring, integrity, passion, and fun” are widely recognized core values at jetBlue Airways. Research your target companies for this type of detail prior to the event.

  • Your résumé normally should not exceed two pages and should be tailored for the positions you are targeting using keywords from job announcements and company websites. There is no tolerance for grammar or spelling errors.

  • While waiting your turn to speak to company representatives, give job candidates ahead of you the courtesy of a private conversation.   

  • Dress for success. This is your first contact with the company. You can never overdress.

  • Talk to hiring managers about what you have learned in your research about their company and explain why you want to work there. Be prepared to discuss your readiness for posted positions and always mention the position or requisition number gleaned from the company’s website.

  • Don't ignore companies you do not recognize -- engage the recruiter with the following questions: What types of positions are you looking to fill? Are your needs immediate or longer term? How would you describe the ideal candidate?

  • Don’t be discouraged if the recruiter or hiring manager directs you to a website to complete an online application. Many companies require all job applicants to complete this step to facilitate federal government reporting requirements.     

Don't expect to leave this MOAA event or any career fair with an offer. The purpose is to make a connection with a company representative and begin the dialogue. Always ask for contact information, write thank-you notes, and remember to follow up with company representatives.

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About the Author

Capt. Jim Carman, USN (Ret)

Capt. Jim Carman, USN (Ret)