Monday, September 10, 2012

Thoughts from a Job Fair

Last week I attended a job fair sponsored by our local Chamber of Commerce. It is an annual event.  While it has never been marketed as such, the job fair has become one, of many entry level positions and near minimum wage jobs.  As I stood behind my table and watched the wave of job seekers overtake the room I was really disappointed to see the same thing again this year.

It appears that so many of the young folks who attend at an entry level event are part of what academics call structurally unemployed.  While this may be brash or arrogant of me to say this, it appears that these folks lack the skill to get an interview, let alone land the job, if they were fortunate enough to get called for an interview.  Speciffically what was I seeing that led me to believe this,,,

  • Don't smoke pot before coming to a job fair (I know what it smells like)
  • Don't be a 20 something young lady in a halter top carrying a child and pushing another one (wanting to talk to employers, you are screaming I have child care issues
  • Ball caps - take them off 
  • Young men - pull your pants up, I don't want to see your underwear (it's the food plant thing) 
  • Look at me (in the eyes) when we are conversing (not off into the distance)
  • Don't travel in packs  - I want to hire individuals not groups of people
  • If you bring one of your parents - don't let them talk for you
  • Take the metal out of your face, the holes are ok - I get it that you have piercings
  • Do something to make sure you don't have bad breath

My bullet point lists reminds me of one of my son's favorite sayings.  He works for the parent organization of a College Fraternity.  He always tell the young fraternity gentlemen, "You get one chance at first impressions."  I think that is profound.

OR - I am I missing the whole thing?  Should I change my attire and style to look, dress and act like these folks?

As I mull that over, I have one last final observation from the job fair.  For the first time in my life I started to get creeped-out by shaking someones hand.  I observed an individual sneezing. After covering their mouth with their hand, they then extended their hand to me,  So I am thinking great, I am going to directly get whatever germs they have rolling around in their system. But I hung tuff and shook their hand anyway.

I am thinking of pushing a new concept at job fairs. Rather than shake hands, I think we (employers) should follow suit from our friends in Asia; Japan, Korea, Viet Nam etc. and bow our heads at each other, when we meet someone new. This would show respect and not spread germs.   That would probably be the most respect I would be shown as a recruiter, at a job fair.

-Dave Ryan Director of Social Media ISC SHRM