Virtual (-ly absent) Career Fair could do better
by Suhaile Md
MORE jobs are always welcome news. On Feb 8, over 2,300 jobs were on offer at the two-day career fair held at Changi Airport. Running concurrently, to complement the physical fair, was the Virtual Career Fair (VCF) which will be online till Feb 22.
The VCF is meant to “complement” the physical fair and it would allow “individuals to apply for jobs and speak to hiring employers virtually, at the jobseekers’ convenience”, said the G and the labour movement in a joint-statement (Feb 8). They are the organisers of the fair.
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What’s it like to use the VCF?
Here’s the short version:
- The website layout is intuitive and easy to navigate.
- You can book a half-hour career coaching session delivered over the phone or live chat.
- You can chat with prospective employers.
- There are over 19,000 jobs available.
- You will be redirected to the Jobs Bank site, where you have to sign in again, if you want to apply for a job.
- Key information like salary range and working hours are not mentioned on the VCF. For that, you have to go to the Jobs Bank site.
- Prospective employers were not available for a chat when TMG went online.
And here’s the detailed version, with pictures!
It’s catchy, and intuitive. The categories are self-explanatory. No job experience? Check out the “Fresh Entrants” section. If you’re well into your working life and looking for a change, go for the “Mid-Careerists” section. In either section, you can look for jobs according to functions like marketing or finance. Last we checked (Feb 16), there were over 4,000 jobs each for fresh entrants and mid-entrants.
You can toggle between the options to fit your needs. There are multiple positions like entry level, senior management and non-executive. Employment types also range from temporary, to flexi work, and the usual part-time and full-time options as well.
If you un-click the “Jobs from Career Fair @ Changi Airport”, a wider range of jobs will appear. There were 41 job categories to choose from, each with its own icon. For example, if you’re looking for an admin job, click on the blue icon with the paper clip (shown above).
If you missed the physical career fair, you can click on “Career Fair @ Changi Airport” and it brings you to the booths that were present there.
There are over 40 companies on the portal. From housekeeping at Crowne Plaza Hotel, to human resources at Singapore Airlines, to engineering at Indeco Engineers, there’s a wide range of jobs for everyone.
If the options and the jobs categories look familiar, it’s because the jobs on VCF are drawn from the Jobs Bank (read more here). Click on a job you wish to apply and it will redirect you to the original job posting on the Jobs Bank site.
You have to use your SingPass to log into Jobs Bank to apply for the job. If you don’t have an existing Jobs Bank account, you will need to fill in the usual details like your NRIC number, employment status and so on before you can continue.
But it’s worth it because unlike the VCF, key information like salary range, the number of vacancies, working hours and so on are stated on the Jobs Bank.
Compare the Jobs Bank job description to the VCF one below.
The Jobs Bank has nearly 60,000 jobs online at any one time (recall that VCF has only about 19,000). Furthermore, there are more options to toggle from when searching for jobs on the Jobs Bank.
Another draw of the Jobs Bank: You can search for jobs based on companies that are part of the professional conversion programmes (PCP), or P-max programme that the G has come up with to support mid-careerists looking for a career change. (Read more about the PCP here).
Which raises the question: Why should anyone use the VCF when the Jobs Bank is so much better?
The chat function
The great perk of the VCF is the chance to chat with employers, as well as a career coach. This is not available on the Jobs Bank and it would be more than enough reason to use the VCF.
Enter the “connect with a career coach” booth and click on the chat link. It leads to a scheduler where you can book half hour slots with a career coach from Workforce Singapore. You can then have a phone conversation with a coach who, among other things, will advise you on how to improve your resume, or interviewing skills, and give insights into the job market of the various sectors available on the VCF. Very useful!
Click on any of the 40-plus companies with a booth online, and you’ll enter a room that looks like this…
Enter the chatroom (the icon over the table) and you’ll see something like the following:
The timetable shows the dates and times someone will be online from their company. Unfortunately, of the 40-plus companies, only three had such a timetable: SATS Ltd, Soup Restaurant Singapore Pte Ltd, and Plaza Premium Lounge Singapore Pte Ltd. Of the three, none of them were online when we checked twice on Thursday – once before lunch, and again later around 3.40pm. Actually, none of the companies were online at all.
Sadly, it was the same the next morning at 10am. A call to the helpline (found under the FAQ section) was fruitful. They were polite and apologetic, with an explanation of sorts: We “reminded the employers to go online… sometimes even if not reflected on the timetable, employers do have representatives online,” they said.
Poor chaps, they reminded the employers but still, no show. Except for SATS Pte Ltd. Kudos to them!
Unfortunately, multiple attempts to enter the chat room showed an error message. Bummer.
Turns out, the key attraction of the VCF – the chat function – was a downer. And the search functions, total number of jobs, and inclusion of important information like salary and working hours, are much better in the Jobs Bank.
To be fair, this is only the second time the VCF has gone live. The pilot VCF came online last September.
“We will continue to gather user feedback and refresh virtual resources in the virtual career fairs prototypes in the coming months,” said Mr Tan Choon Shian, Chief Executive of Workforce Singapore (WSG) on Feb 8 in a press statement introducing both the physical and virtual career fairs.
Let’s not forget the Jobs Bank was launched in 2014. Naturally, it would have added better functions over time.
Besides, the VCF is not duplicating efforts. Rather, it has built on the Jobs Bank database and has added value primarily through the chat function, for instance. Which frankly, if effectively executed, would have been invaluable. Maybe that’s something for VCF to look into and for us to look forward to next time?
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