|Job fairs: More misses than hits|
|Friday, 16 January 2009 08:00|
At least six job fairs have been organised in recent months by Community Development Councils (CDCs), the civil service as well as the healthcare sector. Hundreds of jobs have been served up at some of these events, attracting at least double the number in job seekers. But has such response meant success in finding the right workers?
Not necessarily, companies told TODAY. Hotel Ibis Singapore, for example, received hundreds of applications for its 40 available positions at North East CDC’s career fair last month, but has hired only two — a housemaid and a security officer.
Food and beverage operator ThaiExpress Concepts has taken part in four job fairs since October, and recruited "30 to 50" staff for its 150 vacancies through them — a success rate that could be improved, said Ms Nica Foo, its head of human resources and talent management.
Restaurant chain Fish & Co received over 200 applications at two job fairs for its 60 vacancies, but "the majority" of applicants were later uncontactable or declined second interviews, said its human resources manager Dawn Lim. And for shoe retailer Charles & Keith, just half of its 40 available positions have been filled through three job fairs.
Why The Dismal Success Rate?
Seven in 10 applications Ibis hotel received at the North East CDC job fair were unsuitable, said its assistant human resource manager New Kheng Tiong. And with the hotel opening mid—February, the management felt there was insufficient time to re—train applicants for certain positions.
"For the hotel’s duty engineers, we did consider some manufacturing engineers. But the systems used are very different, and training will take longer (than a month)," explained Mr New.
But staff training is feasible in some instances — the housemaid it has hired, for example, will undergo a month’s training before the hotel opens. She had previously worked in manufacturing, but Mr New said they felt she had "the right attitude".
For the F&B industry, employers said a service—oriented attitude is more important than academic qualifications. Job hopefuls might say they are prepared to stay on their feet for long hours, but their tone and body language might suggest otherwise.
"There are people out there looking for jobs, but maybe they are just not keen to do F&B," said Fish & Co’s Ms Lim, who suggested that more career talks be held to change mindsets, and that the Ministry of Manpower raise its quota for foreign worker—hires should businesses be unable to hire enough locals.
It’s not just the services sector that has lacked success at job fairs. A voluntary welfare organisation (VWO) that participated in South West CDC’s job fair last month told TODAY that many applicants lacked relevant experience for positions such as social workers, childcare teachers and programme coordinators.
The VWO has yet to schedule interviews with its job fair applicants due to the lack of time. But it would probably screen more qualified job seekers who applied through internal referrals or the National Council of Social Service’s website first, said its representative.
Tweak The Job Fair Formula
Despite some misses, employers said they would participate in future job fairs for the chance to cast their net wide. Fairs help to "build our brand (and) ensure sufficient manpower", said a Charles and Keith spokesperson.
The fairs’ success depends on how well they have been promoted, and whether they attract the desired "volume and quality" of attendees, said recruitment firm Adecco’s Southeast Asia regional director Lynne Ng.
Chances of a successful match are higher with a structure in place to evaluate applications — something staffing firms can help develop, she said.
ThaiExpress’ Ms Foo said employers should know the fair’s theme and target audience, and job seekers should read up on the participating companies.
Indeed, some employers have hit on a winning formula. The National University Hospital, which held a solo walk—in recruitment drive on December 27, advertised and received media coverage in the lead—up to the event.
Half the applicants were qualified for the jobs they sought, and 10 per cent of the 500 vacancies were filled just two weeks after the fair. Interviews are still ongoing, said NUH’s human resource director Clara Wee.
"Having such a job fair attracts a large pool of interested applicants in a single day," Ms Wee said. "We are very satisfied with the outcome of this recruitment drive and are considering making this a regular feature, perhaps even on a quarterly basis."