About 100 area job seekers are better prepared for their job searches thanks to FairfieldCountyJobs.com's recent Searching for Success event, at which a three-person panel addressed the biggest concerns and provided candid information that sometimes surprised the audience.

The panel, comprised of hiring managers from the retail, events and financial services industries, was moderated by FairfieldCountyJobs.com CEO, David Lewis. Audience questions ranged from asking the best way to follow up after an interview, to having the panel weigh in on how much social media affects their selection of a new hire. The panel provided 90 minutes of expertise and knowledge.

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"Be passionate about what you do and what you bring to the table," said panelist Janine Labadia, human resources manager at Design Within Reach. "You may not have every single bullet on that job description, but if you have the majority of it, and can speak to it and talk about how excited you are about what you've done and what you can bring, that's going to make me excited about you as a candidate."

The panel agreed that showing good energy and enthusiasm for the role will get a candidate one step closer to being put on the payroll.

Meghan Hurley, director of human resources at Reed Exhibitions in Norwalk, and the other panelists said that before they even reach out to a potential candidate, they perform a Google search and social media audit to see what that candidate has put out there online. "I will stalk you," Hurley said.

Many candidates disqualify themselves from a job opportunity without even knowing it. Job seekers should be advised to be sure to keep a professional image online, and keep their private lives private.

All communication should be professional and respectful of people's time. "Send individual thank-you emails to each person you met with and then stop," said Jeremiah Patterson, HR business partner at Stamford-based commodities firm Noble Americas. "Every interaction you have with a company brands you, and you don't want to be branded as `the person who calls every other day.' "

And the way a candidate conducts themselves after a rejection can be critical to securing a role at that firm in the future. "Still say thank you," Patterson said. "Even if you're not a fit for that role, the way you conduct yourself may mean they'll remember you."

The most important piece of advice offered by the panel was to be authentic, and steer clear of misrepresentations of any kind. If there are gaps in a resume, be honest about them.

The next FairfieldCountyJobs.com Searching for Success event will take place on Oct. 1.

Many of the job seekers in attendance had questions about re-entering the workforce after a long absence, and the panel advised them to address these gaps head on.

"The honesty factor is important," said Patterson. "You aren't alone, and from my perspective it doesn't make you stand out negatively at all. It just helps tell your story."

The next FairfieldCountyJobs.com Searching for Success event will take place on Oct. 1.

Founded in 1999, FairfieldCountyJobs.com is a regional job board, with more than 100,000 visitors clicking through up to 500,000 times per month to view details on open jobs in the area. FairfieldCountyJobs.com is also home to a resume database with more than 40,000 resumes from area job seekers, allowing employers to source candidates directly on its website.