• Eric May

The Career Fair is Dead

Long live the career fair!

I've been to a lot of career fairs. I've attended not just as a participant, but on the employer side of the table. I'm here to tell you that the career fair method of recruiting is over, and smart companies aren't going through the motions anymore.

Career fairs won't go away any time soon, but you can think of it as the in-person version of applying online. A recruiter has a few seconds to gauge you and your resume, and then that's it. For companies that want to recruit exceptional talent, this is very often an inaccurate assessment of a person because it relies on less than 30 seconds of data and one piece of paper. Considering that average wages for new engineers range from $60k/year to $120k/year for higher cost of living areas, it's crazy to think that we spend more time applying for an auto loan than we do getting the right talent in the door.

"Most companies don't have an effective way to identify entry-level talent."

This is where events like Hackpalachia, GiveBackHack, Hack OHI/O, and others come in. It becomes a little more difficult when you get to Hack OHI/O scale, but at these events recruiters and talent management teams get the opportunity to spend hours with students and observe how those students interact in teams, see who emerges as a leader, and observe the tenacity in which students approach unstructured problems. This is far more valuable data than you can get at a career fair.

In the career fair setting, a recruiter can be swooned by a high GPA (some companies still mistakenly use GPA as a cut-off criteria), being the president of a club, and a great smile. These are good things to have, but they're just a few data points. They don't get you the great hire who wasn't challenged enough in school and spent their time building new iOS apps, but can't get an interview because when they apply online they don't check the boxes that companies use almost entirely because that's what some people decided to use in the 1950s.

The reason we started Hackpalachia was to create this better talent identification mechanism, teach students about entrepreneurship, and get them excited and energized and feeling like they can go change the world. I'm really looking forward to the first Hackpalachia on September 28th and to for the work we're doing to create a better talent and educational pipeline for students.

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