Adapt and Grow job fairs can be better

I attended a job fair organised by the Adapt and Grow initiative last month, specifically targeted at professionals.

The employers represented at the fair were highly regarded companies, such as Google, Marina Bay Sands and Standard Chartered Bank, alongside government agencies like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the National Environment Agency.

I preregistered for the event, which required my personal contact details and my resume to be uploaded. There were a considerable number of attendees and many counters were busy, with queues forming for some of the more sought-after companies.

While I did get to speak to company representatives after waiting my turn, I was disappointed for a number of reasons.

•Each booth displayed a list of positions available from the organisation, but when questioned on the specific requirements of each job and how one could possibly fit the role, some representatives were unable to answer, and for those who did, little detail was disclosed.

•For most of the event, it felt like a resume-depositing session. The representatives spoke briefly about the positions, scanned my registration card afterwards, and assured me that my application had been received and that the human resource (HR) department would contact me if I were found suitable for the job.•

•Most of the representatives were not decision-makers who were able to quickly determine whether or not a prospective candidate would be a good match.

•There was little to nothing done, in terms of follow-up opportunities and next steps.

The only bright spot was the MFA's booth. It was, as far as I could recall, the only one which had a team of HR personnel present conducting real-time interviews with applicants and explaining at length to candidates the requirements of the jobs available.

While the Government's effort to help displaced professionals, managers, executives and technicians secure new jobs is commendable, I believe more can be done to make the process more efficient.

Many attend job fairs in the hope of having direct access to the people in charge of the hiring process.

If it turns out to be more of an event for people to deposit their resumes, there is little difference compared to applying for jobs online.

Having decision-makers present can also shorten lead times for both employers and job seekers, and help both parties fulfil their requirements sooner.

Chia Chong Ming

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2016, with the headline 'Adapt and Grow job fairs can be better'. Print Edition | Subscribe