Dubai: Filipino jobseekers who flocked to the job fair at the recent Philippine Independence Day celebration in Dubai took to social media to voice their frustration over the event, with many saying they were lured to stay on for hours just to boost the crowd numbers.
Thousands of Filipinos gathered at the Dubai World Trade Centre on Friday for the 120th Philippine Independence Day celebration, which started at 8am. The job fair was just a segment of the day-long cultural event.
The job fair was jointly organised by the Unified Filipino HR Professionals, Filipino HR Club and FICN Inter-Church Sports Fellowship under the FilCom organisation that organised the independence day programme.
Several Facebook group discussions on the job fair were filled with comments from Filipino jobseekers who claimed that they were given false hopes of a job interview, only to be stuck at the venue for more than six hours.
"I was already there by 6:30am and there was a massive queue of people for the job fair," Denver Love Palafox told Gulf News. He said he left the venue at 1:30pm after failing to get a promised SMS alert for a job interview.
"At first, it went on smoothly. We were able to quickly submit our CV to volunteers. Then they told us to wait for an SMS for a job interview.
"Since there was no place for job applicants to wait at the venue, many of us didn't have a choice but to sit at the audience pit near the stage," he said.
Palafox said he sat through nearly three hours of the independence day show while waiting for an SMS alert.
"During the opening program, it was announced that there were already 3,000 people in the venue. I'm sure 60 per cent of those people came only for the job fair," he said.
"It would have been better if they also sent an SMS to alert people that they have not been shortlisted so they don't waste time waiting," he added.
"I thought they used the job fair to make it look like there were a lot of participants for the show," he said.
His comment was echoed by many on social media, including Facebook users Rosalyn Abenoja and Gra Cia who also pointed out that the submitted CVs just ended up in one giant box. "It was a waste of CVs," Gra Cia said.
Yeoj Manalo Babaran told Gulf News she felt frustrated after spending money on an early taxi ride "only to arrive there and be told that I can just leave my CV and hopefully get a call if I am shortlisted".
"It's a shame for people seriously looking for work," she said.
Few job interviews
"The list of companies that were hiring were not there. I went there early only to come home empty handed," Gary Yabao posted in Filipino in one Facebook group.
Others were luckier. Genette Serrano said she did get an SMS alert and was interviewed, but questioned why she was made to submit three copies of her CV.
Several posters announcing the job fair were widely circulated on social media in the weeks prior to the event. However, jobseekers complained that these were misleading.
Zeny Requizo, job fair committee head, told Gulf News that a flow chart posted at the venue mentioned that only shortlisted applicants for companies whose employer is available on site will be interviewed.
"Otherwise, CVs will be forwarded to employers who were not able to come," Requizo said.
"I believe about 70 per cent [of the crowd] went to the job fair. Do they expect we will be able to interview every single candidate in 7 hours from 8am to 3pm?" she said.
She also denied that applicants were told to submit up to three CVs.
"Candidates insisted to give even more than 5 CVs. I know very well because I was one of the volunteers who collected the CVs," she said, adding that the CVs that ended in drop boxes will be sorted and delivered to various employers.
Requizo admitted, however, that space constraints made it difficult for her team to operate and accommodate more employers at the venue.
"With the very limited space that we had and we were also advised initially that there were only eight tables to be provided to us, how can we invite more employers? Though on the day itself we were provided with more tables, three employers sharing one table hardly hearing each other with the interviewee," she said.
"I feel sorry for those who were not shortlisted especially if they badly need a job but this is the reality of life... in the normal [job] application, you will not expect that you will be selected and interviewed," she said.
Joel Foronda, chairman of the FilCom organisation that organised the Philippine Independence Day event, told Gulf News he is investigating the issues Filipinos raised on social media.
JM, a former HR specialist, said that although he appreciated the organisers' intention of helping job hunters, "it seems they were overwhelmed with the influx of job applicants just an hour after the event started".
The job seeker said he came early and had to borrow money for a taxi ride to the venue as here was yet no Dubai Metro service that time.
"They just told me to drop the CV in the drop box and that they'll send an SMS after 2 to 3 hours, which I expected but didn't happen," he told Gulf News.
JM said the job fair could have certainly been organised better to save people’s time and effort.
"They posted a small flow chart on the wall at the venue but I could barely read it. Even if we followed that flow chart, the fact is that the whole system crashed even during the registration period," he said.
"It was like a crash after takeoff. They should know the projected traffic for an event like this, knowing also that this was not their first time to hold this activity," he said.