The Florida Blue Florida Classic Diversity Job Fair and Career Expo that took place on November 21, 2014 at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida was a huge success. Over 80 employers and 4,000 job seekers came to the Amway Center to visit with “live employers” and sit in on very powerful career sessions. It was a great day for Central Florida and showcased some fantastic Central Florida based jobs.
Here are a few observations I had from this year’s job fair:
1. There are not as many job seekers as in previous years. When we first started these job fairs six years ago, we had over 1,500 people standing in line to get into the Amway Center. This year, we had an initial line of approximately 500 people.
2. More employers. Yes, employers are coming out of the office and attending career fairs. This is due to the fact that good talent is getting scarce. To recruit great employees, live career fairs really give employers a chance to check out the entire person, not just words on a resume. Technology is great, but being able to interact with a future employee is priceless.
3. Older job seekers. Just an observation, but it seemed like around 35-40% of job seekers were over the age of forty. I know many displaced from the great recession have yet to find the same level of employment they were accustomed to. They also are more “old school” and appreciate the opportunity to talk to a person and not a keyboard.
4. The biggest challenge facing job seekers during their job search is not hearing a peep from employers when they apply to a job. I speak to this topic specifically and 95% of the people attending couldn’t raise their hands fast enough when asked if they felt like employers were leaving them hanging. It was a true hot button. I know, employers will tell many of these job seekers that they don’t understand why they applied in the first place (not close to being qualified) and that is why they are not worthy of a response. But, in reality, I hope employers would at least send “Dear John” emails or letters to anyone in this category.
5. Job seekers are officially confused about their resumes. What confused job seekers the most is how to effectively implement keywords in the resume to get them noticed by employers. Unfortunately, too many bad resume writers and friends and family are telling them what to do and it is wrong. We have a great need to educate serious job seekers and let them know that the resume needs a professional writer so they can give themselves the best (and real chance) of getting noticed.
The best thing about a live career fair is that it makes job seekers humans again, not just a keyword in an application tracking system.