The Dark Side of Job Fairs

Actually, this post title is a misnomer, because is there really a light side of job fairs?

You can strike it lucky at a job fair, but often you’re just milling around past thousands of companies you’ve never heard of who want to hire customer service representatives and “retail specialists” aka register monkeys. It’s frustrating.

Ann Nonimas writes about her recent job fair experience at The 405 Club…specifically, Employment Expo 2010 at Madison Square Garden.

Let’s let Ann take it from here, shall we?

Especially since it was being sponsored by the AARP; I assumed there’d be employers represented who were willing to hire someone over 50— like me….I looked around and saw all kinds of people — and all ages. Wait! Wasn’t this job fair for the unemployed who were over the age of 50? I noticed many in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. How could this be? When I asked some of the young adults waiting in line how they had heard about it I got a variety of answers — and was angrily told by one woman that the job fair was “for everyone!”

Ten thousand people attended the job fair, at which, according to the organizer’s own list, under 30 companies exhibited…and some were selling educational courses instead of offering jobs.

And it is interesting how this event was marketed: here’s a Craigslist ad promoting the expo, saying “open to all ages“; here‘s a Getty image from the event, clearly captioned “an AARP job fair with an emphasis on individuals 50 years old and over.”

These mixed messages are frustrating, especially when there are up to ten thousand people looking at 30 exhibitors.

The bright side for Ann? “I got a small, flat, plastic dispenser (shaped like a house), containing minuscule white breath mints. It was a promotional gift from Greater New York Home Care.”

That sounds nice. “I had an extremely hard time trying to open it, and chipped my fingernails in the process.”