WorkSource stopped hosting job fairs in 2009. That’s the year the recession hit our region hard, but we’d been having trouble filling tables at our monthly recruiting events for a while. We charged a nominal fee for businesses to participate, just enough to cover our advertising cost, but we found fewer and few companies willing to pay at all. Finally, we changed formats entirely; we now hold a virtual event quarterly, for which we do not charge employers at all. (The next virtual job fair runs June 10 – 14, 2013.)
In addition to attendance by employers, the traditional job fair has changed in other ways. A decade ago, you might actually get the chance to sit down with a recruiter and conduct an actual interview. Your resume would be read and considered; you might even get an offer at the event. Today, the online application process is the only entrée into a company, and the only thing many people will hear from recruiters at events is “apply online.”
Crowds of hopeful jobseekers have increased dramatically at the same time that employers have been cutting back, making the competition at job fair events tougher than ever. If you’ve attended an event over the past few years, you know that it doesn’t feel very productive. But is it still worth your time to attend?
Not according to new research from Workforce Florida, Inc., the agency responsible for setting workforce policy for the state workforce organizations. Workforce Florida conducted research to learn more about how businesses find new employees in March of 2013. The results are in this chart.
According to the employers surveyed, “Word of mouth from friends, relatives and colleagues” was most frequently cited as the source for new hires, used “sometimes” or “frequently” by 80 percent of the responding companies. Job fairs were cited as frequent resources by only 8 percent of those surveyed. Networking tops any method you might be using to connect with people and job leads.