It's Raining Candidates

Here in Los Angeles, when it drizzles like it did today, people hunker down at home as if the apocalypse is approaching. They leave home if they absolutely have to get somewhere in a crisis, such as to a manicurist. When they do drive in the rain, if you’re near the road, I recommend you wear a helmet.
 
Given the dire weather, and the left coast being relatively foreign land to the Journal, today’s Wall Street Journal executive diversity career fair fared quite well. The Journal, one recruiter told me, “called and called and called” to get her company to take part until she caved.  
 
The format was unusual; instead of tables in an auditorium, recruiters were put in hotel suites spread out over two floors. One job candidate said he felt “intimidated” waiting in a hallway outside a hotel suite, and one recruiter simply called the format “odd.” That aside, most everyone was positive.
 
The hottest suite was probably Beckman Coulter’s. It’s one of the larger companies in Orange County that most people have never heard of. It makes medical-testing products, and is hiring engineers, scientists, marketers, finance experts, and others. I asked Beckman senior HR specialist Liz Caniglia the reason for the line at her suite. Caniglia, matter-of-factly, responded: “We’re just that popular.”
 
Caniglia had in her hand a glossy employee magazine; the brochure “highlights the contributions that Beckman Coulter people, products and customers make to the world around us.” It’s good. 
 
Southern California Edison also had quite a line, though partly because it was keeping people in the suite pretty long. I’ve met a couple of people who work at Edison, and they’re happy. This was a diversity job fair, and Edison has a reputation for being a good place to work for Hispanic employees.
 
The recruiter from San Diego’s Sempra Energy was very positive about both the quality and quantity of candidates she got. Sempra’s looking for mechanical and electrical engineers, and she had businesspeople come by with engineering backgrounds. Those are people who can really get promoted at Sempra, she says.
 
LaTasha Folk (who exudes niceness) made out OK, but got a few more non-executives — recent grads — than she would have preferred at the Toyota Financial Services booth. She’d like to have had people pre-screened beforehand so that only the target market (executives) of candidates would show. The company’s looking for an OD manager and an OD analyst, a CPA, an audit expert, and others. I was disappointed that a job candidate came by the booth while I was there (time for me to go). LaTasha would have been worth talking to the rest of the day.
 
Mattel had Barbie standing on the table where Mattel was talking to candidates. It struck me as odd, but I don’t know why; maybe because Mattel has such a wide variety of toys. It was distracting. Maybe I’m just not that into Barbie. Mattel is hiring HR professionals (as was most everyone today, from Countrywide to Smith Barney to Williams-Sonoma and others) as well as finance, marketing, sales, and IT employees.
 
Wanda Kincy, diversity consulting manager at the HMO Health Net, said she had a steady steam of traffic throughout the day. “I can’t imagine what would happen if it was a sunny day,” Kincy says. “We’d have to get another suite.”
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