Use an External Brain for Perfect Recall at Career Fairs

Part of my job is finding amazing new computer scientists that we can work with through our Accelerator program. A lot of searching for those scientists happens at career fairs. The fast pace, high novelty, and frequent small talk of that kind of event wreak havoc on my long-term memory formation process. But with a bit of help from Obsidian, I now have an almost perfect recall of places, events, and impressions. Here’s the setup.

Four Notes for Each Event

I start each event with four notes: one for a list of candidates, one for a list of connections, one for reflecting on the event, and one that ties them all together.


  • Local Career Fair Candidates, 2023
  • Local Career Fair Connections, 2023
  • Local Career Fair Reflections, 2023
  • Local Career Fair, 2023

That naming structure makes it easy to find the notes later and remember what they’re about, even if I forget to link them together. If you attend more events than I do, you might want to get more granular with the date.


The “candidates” note is just a long list of full candidate names. While I’m meeting candidates, I have this note open. When there isn’t a long line at our booth, I’ll wait to write down a candidate’s name until after they leave, but if a bunch of people are waiting, I make time to pause and write down their name. If I have a moment, I’ll write down an impression the candidate left at the time as a note for myself later on.


  • Jane Doe, junior, head of women in computing club
  • Avery Morgan, senior, seemed less interested in consulting
  • Casey Ellis, senior, excited to work at a local company


The “connections” note is a list of as much of a name as I have for someone I met and want to remember. This might be a professor I want to reach out to later or a fellow recruiter I might see again. These career fairs tend to attract a similar crowd over time, and it’s nice to have a reminder of how many times we’ve met before.


The reflections note is a place to put things that might help next time we recruit at an event. Often it’ll be venue information like “low ceilings, don’t bring the tall signage” or “tons of space, bring the big banner.” It also usually includes a summary of how the event went. Something like “Had a line the whole day. Bring a helper next time.” or “Spoke with a lot more non-CS majors than usual, maybe try a different sign next time.” I take a few minutes after everything cools down at the end of the event to jot down my thoughts while they’re still fresh.


When I have downtime during the event, I’ll surround all of the names in my other notes with square brackets to make them links. If I’ve met the person before, they turn bright, and I can quickly see what other interactions we’ve had. If they’re pale, then I know this is a new candidate or connection.

Links are somewhat helpful during the event, but they’re a godsend afterward. When a candidate applies for an interview, I can pull up their note. I can then use Obsidian’s backlinks feature (or the local graph) to see where I met them first and what my impressions were then. This helps me be more present and engaged during our conversation because I’m not trying to work that out in my head.

Career fairs used to wreak havoc on my long-term memory formation process and leave me staring at a pile of resumes after the event, having no clue how I felt about any of them. But with a little help from Obsidian, I now have a nearly perfect recall of whom I interacted with at which events and the impression they left at the time.


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