Whether it's your first time to attend the HIMSS
circus conference, your fifth (as in my case), or your umpteenth, if you are heading to HIMSS13 as an active job-seeker, there are a few items you should not leave home without. For the rest of us who are passive job-seekers (and that should include all the rest of us), this list may prove to be useful, as well.
- An updated resume. This may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised at how many candidates forget to pack numerous copies of their updated resume. Sure, we live in a digital world, and paper resumes seem a bit antiquated, particularly in our industry, but if you are planning to meet with a recruiter during HIMSS13, they will ask to see your resume so they can refer to it when speaking with you. And if you are a cheapskate, this is not the place to show that off - print your resume on high quality resume paper, making sure that the paper's watermark is right side up - remember, your resume remains long after you walk your impressive self away - make it memorable (in a good way)! If you are not actively seeking a new opportunity, it's just as important that your resume is up-to-date, just in case that cocktail party conversation leads to a discussion of a new project that your talents would be perfectly suited for. That way you can email it to the appropriate person the second you get back to the hotel room. Unless you're tipsy - then it's best to wait until the next morning.
- A manicure. Perhaps this one isn't quite so obvious, especially to the men, but think about it - what body part will get the most exposure and attention while you are meeting, greeting, drinking, eating, and otherwise schmoozing? That's right, your hands! (I know it's New Orleans, but any other answer will probably not help your career). Spend the money the weekend before HIMSS and get a manicure. And if you don't have time in your pregame schedule to do so, take advantage of the hotel's spa and treat yourself the minute you arrive. Many airports also have nail salons - another great option! Most recruiters will make notes on your resume to help them remember who you are - don't be the guy with "horrible hangnails - yuck!" written on yours.
- An emergency kit. I learned this one the hard way! It's quite possible that you could go the entire week without needing any of these items, but why not be prepared just in case? No need to add additional stress to an already chaotic week, right? Here's a list of the items I have kicked myself for not packing over the last several years' of attending HIMSS' conferences:
* Bandaids - once you've walked the Exhibit Halls for a day or two, you'll be glad you packed them, particularly if you're wearing those snazzy new shoes you bought for the occasion.
* Extra phone charger - I'm still wondering what happened to the one I left unattended for 30 seconds at HIMSS11.
* Printed copy of your agenda for the week - it's great that we can now sync our Outlook Calendars to our iPhones and iPads and iDon'tKnowWhatElse, but it would be a shame if you had a major technology fail and couldn't access your Calendar. Trust me on this one.
* Headache relief - no explanation needed, especially in New Orleans.
* Cash - bellhops, shuttle drivers, concierges, housekeeping, etc. all appreciate tips, and let's not forget the beignets! Sometimes the debit card just won't do.
- A sense of humor. These conferences can definitely be a bit overwhelming and stressful for everyone, particularly if you are in job-seeking mode. Chances are very good that something won't go exactly as you planned it would. Count on it! If you do experience a major fail of some sort, take a time out - go back to the hotel, regroup, have a drink, take a bath, take a walk, hit the gym, did I mention have a drink? And then hit it hard again the next day. And have fun - it's called "The Big Easy" for a reason!