Job Fair Recruiting Fail

This is the recount of a troubling situation relayed to me by a friend earlier this week. I\’m using pseudonyms for the sake of all involved.

For his first job fair appearance, I gave my friend Bill some advice that I felt would help him to have meaningful conversations with the recruiters. While he wondered about a tiny resume tweak, the type of paper to print on, and other minor details, I got him to focus on an overall strategy. Instead of walking around and tossing resumes onto the table for the 70+ employers present, I told him to do a bit of research and find 10-15 of the companies that he would enjoy working for. Then, I made him research each of those organizations, at least on the surface level, so that he could speak intelligently with the recruiters that represented each company. That, I told him, would make a much bigger difference than any other little changes he wanted to try.

Anyway, Bill attended the event, and I called him afterward to check in. Here\’s the paraphrase of  the  first half of our conversation.

I met a great guy at the XZY Corporation table. He was friendly and helpful, and we spent a few minutes chatting about the organization and what it does. Although I\’m not as knowledgeable about the company as I should be, it made me feel great when he took the time to talk to me in a private conversation beyond the normal “spiel.” By the time the conversation was over, I was excited about the opportunity to work for his organization.

Wow. That recruiter nailed it. He took a minor interest and turned his company into one of Bill\’s top three choices! Plus, he\’s raving about the company already. And what did it take? About 180 seconds of the recruiter\’s time.

The second half of our conversation was less positive, but it still needs to be recapped. People are doing this, and it needs to stop.

Then I went to the ABC Organization table. The recruiter looked at me like he was bored, so I started the conversation. But it didn\’t take. The guy was like a brick wall. I gave him my resume, hoping that might spark some interest. He criticized it almost immediately. Then he gave it back to me. And that was pretty much the whole exchange. He told me to apply online. Not happening.

Wow (again). That recruiter sucks. In an inverse of the previous example, he took Bill\’s minor interest and turned his company into the last possible choice. And he gave the resume back, supposedly because he could just apply online after the event.

I haven\’t had a lot of experience on the recruiting side of a job fair, but I know that some of you have. Is this kind of thing acceptable? If you or one of your fellow recruiters was acting like the guy from the 2nd example, would you be okay with that? I say it\’s a failure, because as a job seeker, I would hate to run into that kind of attitude.

Photo by clar@bell.

6 thoughts on “Job Fair Recruiting Fail

  1. Bonita

    Wow. Recruiters need to treat every candidate as if they are a potential customer. It is easier said than done at work with a million other things going on, but it’s SO easy to do at a job fair. No excuses. That’s terrible.

  2. tlcolson

    I’ve seen this happen more often than not. I don’t believe its a lack of interest, its some Sr. level manager who sends out Line Supervisor John to man the Job Fair booth – and the poor guy has no idea what he’s doing.

    He’s not been trained to sell the company, and he’s not particularly happy to be there when he’s got 6 projects waiting on him when he gets back to the office.

    Or, on the flip side: the secretary has been sent – because “we do so many of these things, who cares who goes as long as we are there”

    Its a sign that the company isn’t particularly interested in hiring. I say don’t take it personally and be glad you know now, instead of 6 months from now, that there’s something broken at ABC Company.

  3. funnelthru

    Sadly, this happens all the time.

    Thing it the guy in the 2nd example may have treated almost everyone like the 1st guy if he didn’t have a ton of projects/work waiting for him. People at job fairs are at the mercy of their organization. The employer can picked trained people who are focused on the task, or pull out any available personnel who are probably working overtime to make things work.

    Still – no excuses. Like tlcolson said above it is a really bad reflection of the employer.

  4. Dave

    Great article Ben. From what I have heard, students aren’t very satisfied when they walk out of career fairs and it’s not difficult to understand why (esp. with the 2nd example). I believe Career Fairs are a waste of time in most cases and are viewed mainly as a PR move by most companies. How often do we hear companies telling students to “apply online” when they try and give them their resumes. Besides, is a 2 minute conversation really a good way to evaluate talent anyways?

  5. alphaRaider

    I was at the same career fair and I bet I know the booth you were talking about.


    They were so rude to all the students. Everyone around campus says that’s the last place they would work at.

    If its that bad and bureaucratic at the booth, god knows what it would be like working for that awful company.

  6. Ben Post author

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. I was ticked off to hear it, and I’m glad that I wasn’t there to let something slip, because it would have been rough.
    And AlphaRaider may be correct, but that’s not the one I was talking about (but there was more than one of them? WOW!).

    Keep up the fight against this kind of stuff, people. We don’t need any help making HR/recruiting look bad!

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