Job Fair….Not!

Recently I attended a job fair as a hiring manager for the company getting read to lay me off. Yes, once again I must point out how much of my life is spent living in irony.  But wait, it gets better. The only “jobs” we had to offer were the very jobs booting people out of the company. As job seekers would come to our booth I had the unique pleasure of explaining what the job was, making it sound interesting while not sounding angry. After all, I could have applied for one of these jobs were I so inclined. NOT! Somehow I managed to keep my sense of humor and joke with the job hunters. I guess I was the only person able to empathize with what they were going through. I hope I was able to make the experience of talking to us a light moment in what had to be a frustrating day.


A word about job fairs here. There is an ugly truth. Some companies signed up to participate in this particular job fair specifically to fulfill EEO outreach requirements. Some companies signed up for this job fair at the end of 2008 before things got even worse.  Bottom line, many companies had no job openings at all.


I have to hand it to the majority of job seekers.  People, were for the most part, professional, outgoing, and displaying a positive attitude. After my stint at our booth, I strolled the job fair and made several observations. I watched people stand in line at several booths for up to five minutes only to learn there were no jobs or to get, “ I don’t know, you ‘ll have to ask her (or him).” This would mean standing in line at the very same booth again. Some companies did have jobs, a lot of them…if you were willing to re-locate.  Some recruiters were taking the time to look at resumes and give tips to the job seekers to make their resume better.  The downside is I overheard frustrated people wondering what to do with conflicting tips on constructing their resume. One recruiter told a potential job candidate if her resume did not meet every single requirement the resume would go no further in the process.  How frustrating for anyone changing careers with very transferable skills, but perhaps missing one of a laundry list of requirements. How unfortunate that a company may be missing out on a terrific employee. Perhaps some companies should assume some of the very best workers are being laid off because of the economy not because they are the employees at the bottom of the talent pool. They may be very skilled, therefore expensive for their current employer.


The organizations putting on this or other job fairs are doing the best they can in these tough times. At this particular job fair there were various seminars held to help people make the most of their job search. This job fair was very crowded and people were lined up at the door waiting for it to open just as others around the country have been. I waited a long time to write this trying to find some humor. I just don’t see anything funny because I looked into the eyes of every person I spoke with.


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One Comment, Comment or Ping

  1. Diane


    I have wondered about Job (NOT) Fairs before…it started at the one where I found my job. The advertisment in the Oregonian for Portland Public Schools, listed a spectrum of jobs including Paraprofessionals. I got to the Not-So-Fair’s entrance and asked where the specific job mentioned was…they said, and I quote, “The only jobs we have are for teachers.”

    Having a slight Oppositional Defiant Disorder streak in me, I said, “Where are the jobs in Special Education?” They pointed to the far side (really)… I waited in line, and when I got to the front, I told the man where I wanted to work, and what my experience had been. He told me to wait, and thought I needed to talk to his colleague. The rest, as they say, is history.

    If I were to follow what I had been told at the door, I never would have gotten the job…and who the hell wrote that ad? I could take an “educated” guess on that one…another sign of unintelligent life, methinks.

    28 Apr