I heard a very interesting news story on NPR this morning about job fairs in the Midwest. As you might expect, attendance at such soirees among employers is down for the time being, while attendance among those seeking work is way up, especially for unemployed people. Check out the story by Adam Hochberg online: it’s entitled “Job Seekers Find Long Lines, Little Payoff At Fairs”
What suprised me was hearing that many companies currently attending job fairs may actually not have any positions open. Here’s the quote that caught me off-guard lifted straight from the tail-end of the aforementioned story:
And some of the firms accepting applications didn’t really have any openings. Rather, they were trying to improve the quality of their work force — by searching for people who might do a better job than the employees they already have.
Wow! Talk about a chilling signal of a buyer’s market for employment. Presumably this means that if some candidate were to present him- or herself at a job fair, and be significantly better qualified than a person currently occupying some particular position, then the current job-holder might be laid off or let go to create a space for that person to fill. The very notion sends chills racing up and down my spine.
I got one of my best-ever corporate jobs at a job fair, working for a company called Excelan as a networking consultant from 1987 to 1989, at which time the outfit was acquired by Novell, for whom I continued to work until 1994. I’m pretty sure that nobody was let go to make room for me during that downturn in the economy (we were coming out of a recession back then), but you never know. Kind of makes me rethink the whole politics of attending such events, but then, those who do attend them usually do so because they feel they must, rather than really wanting to go.