Are Job Fairs Dead?
I have held many job fairs. At each, there were at least 100 companies that were all hiring. – But this all ended at the beginning of 2009. That is when all of the Great Recession chickens came home to roost. Since then I have attended dozens of “job fairs.” They have all been a waste of time for virtually every job seeker who has attended.
It breaks my heart to see long lines of hundreds of people, GIs and vets, waiting sometimes for hours to get into a job fair with no jobs. They have hope and expectations. They have families to feed. Some are desperate. Some are destitute. – These job fairs are for the most part are just shams.
However, there are a few little spots of light. WorkForce, a government agency that helps employ people and veterans, has been holding mini job fairs. They find and invite local companies to their offices and then they invite a select group of vets and civilians that would fit the positions these companies need. — These have been helpful. — And job fairs that target a specific industry are always a better bet to attend.
Unfortunately, many recruiters are low level employees hired to attend job fairs. They are not really able to have meaningful conversations. They are usually young people on minimum wage that are told: “If anyone asks a question, direct them to apply on our website.” — Again, smaller, targeted job fairs are more likely to have recruiters who are more knowledgeable and helpful.
But most job fairs today, particularly Military job fairs, are being filled with trade schools and colleges that want their GI Bill money. These schools promise that they will “help place you in a job when you graduate.” – Hockey Puck!
And here is a devilish twist: Some of these trade schools have arrangements with multiple firms across the country to give their graduates jobs. And they do. But there are costs involved for “processing,” additional training, etc. And the new hires are put on probation at a very low wage. – Once their probation is over, they are told that “there are no permanent positions at this time.” Then they take in a new group of recent trade school graduates and do it again and again. – These disreputable schools flood into military job fairs to take advantage of our GIs.
Some companies do attend; but, they do not have jobs. Or they only have entry level jobs for $8 an hour. And some companies have a few highly specialized positions to fill. For instance, at a recent Military job fair, there was a company that was looking for a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering. (Not too many transitioning GIs have that education.) – Why do these companies even bother to come to these fairs? — The reason is because they have contracts with government. And to help insure that they keep these lucrative contracts, they come so that they can report their sincere effort to better the lives of our military personnel.
It is time that we turn to another method for helping people find employment, especially for our GIs who are returning from years of combat. They deserve much better!
I suggest that the Transitional classes become more effective. They should have professional resume writers review and rewrite every transitioning GI’s resume. And they should be taught how to answer questions in interviews. And they should be trained to use the social networks. — This is noi doubt the most important skill in the world today: The ability to social network effectively.
The world continues to change rapidly. What worked just a year ago may be completely ineffective today. Finding a job has now become a expert skill. It is creating a new profession. But the military should recognize this changing environment and do more to insure that our volunteer Military have the proper skills that they need to properly compete for what jobs are available.
One more thing: Seriously consider becoming a business owner. That way you can be in control of your own destiny. I know thousands of GIs who have been looking for work for more than a year,many much longer. It is time for them to get creative and translate their skills and talents into forming their own business.
Your advise and comments, please!