Job Fairs Are Great PR For Politicians But Ineffective Otherwise

The Buffalo News reports that Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown sponsored a job fair, which attracted 1,500 people. While politicians have very little to do with creating jobs, they are all feeling the heat from an angry public seeking employment.

While I applaud the Mayor for trying to help, the truth is that job fairs are small thinking and for the most part ineffective. Job fairs are great at attracting attention for politicians eager to show that they are doing something, but the reality is that job fairs typically disappoint prospective employees and employers.

Some quotes from the Buffalo News article:

While some companies did not initially accept resumes, they were asked to take the requests for jobs following complaints to organizers. 

Kim Foster, 52, of Buffalo, said Thursday’s event seemed “a little unorganized,” with many of the businesses not having applications on hand, instead pointing job seekers online.

Afterward, Foster said she was disappointed. “It seems like I just wasted my time,” she said.

In a 2009 survey by Challenger, Gray a job placement firm, in which human resources executives were asked to rate the effectiveness of various job-search methods on a scale of 1 (least effective) to 5 (most effective), job fairs ranked as the least effective job-search method, scoring an average rating of 1.6.

In the ninth annual Source of Hire Study released by recruiting consultancy CareerXroads, career fairs accounted for only about 2.3% of surveyed employers’ external hires.

According to Monster’s Fall 2009 Atlanta Local Market Report, only 15% of recruiters in the region indicated that they would use job fairs as a recruiting tactic.

While 1,500 people most likely wasted their time attending Buffalo’s job fair, Mayor Brown got some good PR making it look like he is doing something worthwhile. In addition to an ineffective job fair, the Mayor of the third poorest city in the United States has sought to encourage economic development  in Buffalo by providing grants/loans to barber shops, beauty salons and restaurants. A happy owner of a barber shop, salon or restaurant who talks to people all day long generates great PR and votes for a politician bearing gifts. Once again not the most effective use of public dollars but priceless as far as re-election PR.

Are job fairs effective or just a PR tactic?

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