Are job fairs really fair?

Job Fair Booths
Two Thursdays ago (November 20), I was a witness to yet another one in a series of job fairs geared towards assisting Persons With Disabilities get employment. As far as I know, there were more than four job fairs of this kind held for this year alone.

A job fair is basically an activity where companies who are in need of workers assemble together in one place, normally in a mall or a government facility, make booths/tables, post their want ads and await for walk-ins and prospective applicants. It may be a whole day affair or sometimes even longer. After receiving their application forms and giving short interviews, the applicants would undergo further tests or what-haves in order for the employer to filter out and finally select the right person for the job.

I believe companies joining job fairs pay a certain “joining fee” before they participate. This is a win-win situation for them because they can immediately hire a person on the spot, thus lessening the cost compared to posting wanted ads on newspapers and other media. They can also use the venue as an opportunity to advertise their companies and promote their products and services to the general malling public. However, I think their fees are waived on this specific event because it’s sponsored by the mall owner, a non-government organization and two government agencies as part of their advocacy programs.

Me interpreting for Ms. Renee Bacani, SM North EDSA General Manager
Me interpreting for Ms. Renee Bacani, SM North EDSA General Manager

That’s basically what I experienced on this job fair. “JOBS 4 ALL, (Trabaho Para sa Lahat kasama ang mga may K) Local and International Hiring” at SM North EDSA Activity Center was a joint project of Rotary Club of Ramon Magsaysay District 3810 Manila, SM Supermalls and the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA). The event was also in collaboration with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Quezon City Public Employment Service Office (QC-PESO), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

What’s unique in this job fair is that there was also a skills demonstration of persons with disabilities where our deaf students participated in together with other groups. They showed their talents in information technology specifically in web designing and graphics animation.

Deaf Applicants
Deaf Applicants

Now going back to my question, are jobs fair really fair? As I was moving around trying to mingle with the jobless crowd, I overheard that some companies were not really serious on accepting PWD applicants. (This is one of the advantage of people thinking you’re deaf. They unknowingly blurt out their thoughts. hehehe) They were just there to get free publicity or probably free food. Some were even disappointed and wondered why they ever participated.

A deaf applicant approached me and sought my interpreting assistance. He asked one company official about his chances of getting accepted. To my surprise, the officer replied that he would first ask his superiors if they are open to hiring disabled persons. Wow! Why would they join in job fairs for PWD in the first place if they are not really bent on accepting them? I almost reacted violently. However, I calmly asked him about their company’s purpose of joining this job fair if they are not sure of accepting disabled applicants. For which he answered safely by saying it’s not his decision.

As of my personal count, there were less than 50 companies that participated in the event. I learned from NCDA that as per their agreement, they would accept companies to join in the fair provided that they promise to hire at least one person with disability. I will try to follow up with NCDA if those companies really did what they promised. However, with the initial information I gathered, I doubt if they will. I still hope they will.

PWD Applicant
PWD Applicant

Is there some kind of a monitoring system where these companies would do what they promised especially on holding job fairs? Was there a research/survey on the benefits of job fairs in terms of percentage of people hired as compared to the total number of walk-in applicants? Paging, Department of Labor and Employment! I believe it’s your work to determine if job fairs are really effective. You could just imagine the sheer frustrations experienced by these helpless jobless PWD applicants in preparing for this activity only to find out that these companies are not really serious in hiring them!

I’m not pushing for companies to accept disabled people simply because they have to or they were forced to do so. I’m for equal opportunity for everybody regardless of disability and to focus solely on qualifications. But with some companies joining job fair capitalizing only on free publicity, it would really be UNFAIR for ALL.

Special thanks to the special people of NCDA led by Ma’am Nelia De Jesus, Dandy Victa and Rolly Fernandez and of course the newly appointed Executive Director Geraldine Ruiz. They really did a swell job in coordinating these people and staging this event. Organizing major events like this are no walk in the park.This blogger salutes you. 🙂

PS: Kudos to Raph Torralba for the amazing photos. 🙂

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7 thoughts on “Are job fairs really fair?

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  1. Kinda an eye-opening what the private companies and government agencies have been up to.

    I am not really surprised at all about many companies and government agencies do for such phony reasons like bringing the good image to their own company or agency that they are out to hire PWD.

    I do not meant to challenge you, but your t-shirt probably is responsible for not hiring any deaf individuals.

    You ought to dress professionally, not wearing the t-shirt with Flipino ABCs fingerspellings. Your presence surely reflect upon deaf applicants. 😉

    I always enjoy your online blog entries. Keep it up!

    Robert L. Mason (RLM)
    RLMDEAF blog

  2. Hello Robert!

    Thanks again for commenting. 🙂

    Re: sign language t-shirt. Actually, I was there only as part of the committee assigned for skills demonstration for our deaf students. I didn’t go there to interpret on stage. In fact, I was one of those who assisted in carrying the wheelchaired and helped other PWDs set up their demo booths. So wearing something comfortable for this event is necessary.

    The organizing agency encouraged us to wear products that we sell in order to at least generate a small income during the day. So I wore my favorite SL t-shirt.

    The thing is, as an interpreter, you should always expect the unexpected. The “official” interpreter arrived very late. The program is already starting. The deaf crowd is already gathered near the stage. My instinct pressured me to go up and volunteer myself. That’s it! 🙂

  3. Sir Jojo, always been updated at your blog. 🙂

    Of course, I agree with you. It is a big “YES” for me. Interpreter is always been an impromptu as you have mentioned before. I am too experiencing that thing. This will always quoted “Expect the Unexpected”.

    Merry Christmas and Advanced Happy New Year Sir Jojo. Mabuhay ang may K!(Long live PWD!) Hehe:-)

  4. Well, let me toss in my two cents. Some job fairs are good. Some are not. In the last several years, I have visited job fairs and when I hand my resume to employers, it’s when I get told: Visit the web page and fill out, etc, etc, etc, etc.

    Whatever really happened to the good OLD days of long ago when you attended a job fair, talked with employers, and made some impressions. Then later, you get called up for an interview and actually SCORE a job.

    When I went to the recent job fair in DC area, a lot of the deaf were mobbing the government offices and trying to get in to work there. Some of the private companies, like Bender Consulting, were largely ignored.

    I even looked at the “Interview” room most of the day and it largely went UNUSED (according to one staff member who worked in the Ron Regan building).

    Worse yet, I noticed a few hearing people tried to sneak in as “DEAF” or “Disabled”. One employer picked up on this “disabled” job seeker and gave him a lesson I don’t think he’ll forget. But some hearing people are getting desperate for a job out there.

    I can’t tell you how effective these Job Fairs are today compared to when it was better in the 1980s and 1990s. Bigger question is: Will these companies comply with ADA law if they hire us? That is the question that still hangs on many disabled peoples mind today.

  5. @Robert
    thanks! 🙂

    @Sir Jeff
    Thanks for always reading my blog! Merry Christmas to you too! Happy trip!

    Updated din ako sa Friendster Blog mo. 🙂

    Basta pag ikaw naman ang ikasal, kahit di mo sabihin, automatic volunteer ako agad na mag-iinterpret. Kahit conflict ako, I free up that day para sa yo. Pwera lang kung sa China gaganapin. Kahit me passport na ako e kailangan ko pa rin ng visa at plane ticket. hehehe


    That was a real eye-opener for us in the third world country. I thought these things only happen in poor country like ours. I never thought that people in your land don’t experience those things.

    I guess because of the technology, the good-old personal interviews and preparing for first impressions are now rarely used. Most of those who went to the job fair I mentioned in my blog are dressed in t-shirt and informal attire although some really prepared especially those who came all the way from far provinces and spent a fortune just to be there. All the while the companies there are not really bent on accepting PWD applicants. 😦

  6. I am deaf and mute I’m boy I want to applying in SM north edsa for photoshop
    editing Where I already learned the photoshop editing but now I have certificate in tesda accredited already I am 24 year old because my classmate is normal in tesda accredited only write communicating… Don’t worry, I know to normal person… please my cel # 09084935392 and my facebook email is… I am here in Malabon City of Potrero…. THANK YOU!!!

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