The other day, Anon040420120157p had the following comment on the official numbers from the 2012 San Diego Career Fair:
I think good or bad numbers like these are meaningless. Number of offers made based on career fair interviews - now that's something I'd love seeing!In response, David Harwell of ACS Careers has a fairly lengthy e-mail, both on the statistics and on ACS Careers' general strategy for responding to these times:
The question raised by Anonymous is a good one. We ask our employers if they made offers, and we ask job seekers if they received them; however, neither group is good about returning information to us. It is also important to note that very few actual offers are made at career fairs. Most employers are using the career fair as a first screen. Therefore, it is more realistic to look for the number of people that received follow up interviews, or invitations for site visits. We don’t have good numbers for those either.I'd like to hear from readers if they participated in the Chemical Career Pathways series -- it'd be interesting to know both what you thought of it and how your job hunt is going.
Therefore, we concentrate on the variables that are most within our domain of control and/or influence. Namely, I look at the number of employers and the number of jobs they bring. In recent years, several things have changed making it harder to attract employers. The biggest change is the availability of job seekers. Employers have more candidates to choose from than ever before, and those candidates are actively searching out opportunities. Therefore, employers don’t have to come to us, because, job seekers will go directly to them. The second factor affecting onsite job fairs is that most employers are listing two or three jobs instead of 100 or more. With that reduction in volume, many companies decide that it is not economically feasible to send a hiring manager to a meeting for several days to recruit. The cost of travel and missed days on the job is greater than the gain of one or two people. For this reason, we coupled our onsite career fair with our virtual career fair, and I look at them as one hybrid event. Attending the virtual fair eliminates travel costs and losses of productivity. We have been able to grow the number of jobs and the number of employers through this strategy.
With regard to interviews, the number one factor determining whether a candidate gets one is their application package. This is out of our immediate control, but we can help. At the last meeting, we doubled-down on our workshops with a new series called the Chemical Career Pathways series. In the workshops we explore careers in four different sectors: higher education, industry, government, and self-employment. We explore strategies to successfully address the application process in each sector with the exception of self-employment. For self-employment, we lead attendees through the creation of a business plan. We also offer resume reviews and mock interviews onsite and online to our members. We know from surveys that going through the resume review process increases a candidate’s chances of a callback fivefold.
The Chemical Career Pathways series was piloted in San Diego. We are currently optimizing the content based on participant feedback, and we will roll out the full-scale program this fall.
The second stumbling block for candidates is the interview process. Again, we have beefed up our workshops and advice. We also have onsite mock interviews, and an online practice interview program called InterviewStream. Going through a practice interview with either system will increase a candidates chances of success significantly. For the onsite program, we staffed the mock interview booths with hiring managers and HR consultants from ACS.
In the coming months we will continue to supplement our online support materials for job seekers, including a stronger focus on online applications. For example, that means looking at a resume as an online document that must be optimized for searches (search engine optimization), as well as formatted for people. As a start, we conducted an interview with Joshua Waldman, author of Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies, in San Diego with an online simulcast. A recording of the event can be found in our OnDemand archives:
This is a big problem, especially for new graduates and postdocs, but we are trying to help in the ways that we can. We are also open to advice, constructive criticism, and suggestions through firstname.lastname@example.org.