Austin Career Fair

Wednesday, November 04th, 10am-2pm, Norris Conference Center, Austin, TX.

“Naga… Naga… Not gonna” go to this one… [1]

I won’t be attending the Austin Career Fair. The site is kind of generic, but they run career fairs in a lot of cities, so that’s not all that surprising. When I went to pre-register for the event, things started to look a little spammy.

  • The first clue was that they don’t have very many companies listed for attendance. The ones that are listed seem to be the type that will will only have blue-collar jobs. The most professional things I saw listed were all sales jobs.
  • Second, they wanted a lot of information about me. They really shouldn’t need more than just my name and one piece of contact information (email or phone), but they wanted a lot of personal information.
  • So, I went in search of a privacy policy and could not find one. It’s possible, of course, that they don’t know how privacy policies work or that they need one. After all, I get emails every week from well-meaning entrepreneurs that don’t follow the standards of CAN-SPAM. Still, whether they are harvesting contact information to sell or just ignorant about the proper way to collect this type of information, I won’t share with them until I know their real intentions.

I know that they are also struggling. I know the economy hurts job fairs, too. The real problem however, I think, is that they have not changed with the times. People are not finding jobs at Career Fairs any more. They are networking and making personal contacts. They are volunteering and becoming more active in their professional organizations.

What if….

What if career fairs incorporated some of this stuff?

  • a 30-minute workshop on something that can apply to a wide range of people. One topic might be Twitter and Social Media and how that can enhance your job search.
  • a 30-minute networking opportunity with vendors. There could be one before the trade-show part of the fair starts, another mid-day, and another later in the afternoon.
  • a volunteer opportunity at the fair. There are all kinds of clean projects that could be adapted to work table-top and for short/quick tasks.
  • name tags could be coded (colored stickers would work) to help both vendors and job seekers scan the room more quickly. Codes could be for things like full-time vs part/temp/seasonal, required vs. held degrees, industries, etc. My stickers could be an apple (teaching), a magenta mortar board (master’s degree), a pen/paper (writing/editing), and a camera (photography).
  • evening sessions to attract people who already have a job but are looking for a change. If career fairs are only held during the day, then they ensure that the vast majority of their attendants are currently out of work. An evening session would increase the quality of candidates, which would probably attract a better quality of vendors, too.

I’m sure there are a lot of innovative things career fairs could do to increase their quality all the way around. It’s sad that they seem stuck in a model that worked in the mid-80s.

[1] source: “Bob Porter: We’re gonna be getting rid of these people here… First, Mr. Samir Naga… Naga… Naga… Not gonna work here anymore, anyway.”