How Not to Get A Job: Skip a Career Fair

21 May 2007 at 8:14PM Leave a comment

A Career Fair is an ancient and honorable way to find a job. If you want to increase your chances of finding work, go to a Fair.

One service I intend to provide with this blog is an up-to-date list of Colorado Career Fairs. See my calendar in the lower part of the right-hand column. Any assistance, corrections or changes can be sent to notjobs -AT-

Did you know that Career Fairs pre-date HR departments? In fact, after networking, the Career Fair (a.k.a. Job Fair, Hiring Fair or Employment Fair) is the oldest form of recruitment activity. Job Fairs started in the late Middle Ages as events called “Mop Fairs”. After the the Black Death ravaged Europe, the manor system suffered from a severe labor shortage. Employers needing to find workers would attend a Mop Fair held in the market town in their area. Some towns have been holding Mop Fairs for over 700 years.

Workers looking for a position would gather around the village green or market square. Since the mostly illiterate population had no way of printing a resume (this was also pre-Gutenberg), candidates would carry an item indicating their trade, or wear an item in their hat. A shepherd had wool, a cook had a spoon, a gardener had flowers, and a carter had a leather whip. The unskilled would carry a mop, indicating their willingness to clean up. The number of unskilled laborers gave the fairs their name.

Hiring was simple: Employers (often a steward, butler or chamberlain) walked around the square, looking for a particular sign in the hands of a likely candidate. The two would talk about the work and the benefits (generally, meals and housing, but stout castle walls could provide added life insurance and job security). After coming to an agreement, the employer gave the worker a few pence to seal the deal (a hiring bonus). The candidate would hide the sign of his or her job and don a bunch of colored ribbons to show they were off the market. Vendors of food and drink lined the edge of the square, ready to provide sustenance to the newly employed.

Today, some English villages still have a Mop Fair, but the emphasis is on rides, food and drink and not on employment. But the idea that candidate and company can gather together in one place is still working. Now, just as in 1351, if you want to find work you should go to the Fair.

For more, see: Wikipedia on Mop Fairs


Entry filed under: Colorado, Job Fairs, NotJobs.

How Not to Get A Job: Top 10 Ways to Blow Getting the Job Tip: Maximize How You Use LinkedIn

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My Core Ideas

1. "I can't tell you the best way to get a job - because there is no one best way. After 21 years of recruiting, I CAN share things I've seen candidates do to guarantee they DIDN'T get the job."

2. "Most companies don't realize how their recruiting process impacts their candidate pool, and their business. Attention to simple things will result in big improvements."

About the Author

Troy Bettinger, SPHR is a Denver Recruiter, Public Speaker, HR Metrics Analyst and Human Resources Leader who has been recruiting in corporate and municipal environments since 1991.

He specializes in the complete hiring process: defining, sourcing, recruiting, testing, interviewing, offering and orienting new hires. He's also well versed in strategic human resources, college recruiting, diversity recruiting, AAP, EEO, ATS integration, recruiting metrics, social media, recruiting leadership, training and employment branding.


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