Monday, March 12, 2007

Job Fairs... Still Worth It?

I remember back in the day when I would go to a job fair and gladly write the check or hand over the credit card and not even flinch at the 4 digit sum I was paying. Of course, this was because I knew I was going to run in to many, if not tons, of people that came actually looking for work.

You know the type - dressed in a suit (and on the rare occasion they weren't it was because they raced from their current job to get there) with a fresh resume in hand. Current contact information on the resume included more than one number to reach them and if it had an email address it wan't one that revealed something a little to personal about them. (WhipsAndChips@ and ThickIndaBooty@ are still two of my personal favorites to have come across my desk in the last 5 years.)

I recently attended a few major job fairs hosted by some pretty major career boards. One or two may have even been monsterous while a few others were career builders for those on the hunt for employment....
Most were in different markets from one another and at each I was searching for various ranges of skills and experience - so this isn't an isolated issue.

Sadly, one thing was a simple guarantee at each event. In my humble opinion I'm just not getting the "bang for my buck" that I used to.
Now I'm not saying that I expect everyone to show up in a suit nowadays, but something other than worn out sneakers and a wrinkled t-shirt might tell me you're serious. Heck, if you've been hit by a wrinkle grenade on your way to the event, would it be so hard to clean up a bit?

And don't get me wrong - there are still job seekers out there that are taking the fairs and expos seriously, but they seem to be the minority.

While at an event in Chicago less than a week ago I found that there was a wonderful caliber of candidate on average, but just didn't have the volume of job seekers I'd have liked to have seen for the dollars I paid.

I think I'm leaning toward the growing opinion that some of the companies throwing the career fairs are just a little to proud of thier name and just a little to used to recruiters paying whatever is asked and not thinking twice. I just don't see the justification in some of the larger job boards out there charging upwards of $3,000 for a 6 foot table and then maybe getting 500 heads to walk through.

This year (and man, it's been a busy one so far!) is the year of niche events and my own orchestration of events, I think. And though I said I was giving it some hard consideration last year, barring any exceptions, I truly think I'm done with the larger generic job fairs where I'm paying more than $2 per potential job seeker.

I want my "bang for my buck" back!Â