Keeping the Public Insight Network relevant (more than job fairs)

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Sometimes brutal honesty is the best medicine.

After sending a thank-you note to the respondents of a Public Insight Network question about job fairs, one of them emailed me. Richard Williams stated he felt the Public Insight Network is "very distant and not rewarding."

Reading those words broke my heart. But after corresponding with Richard, I have some new ideas to ensure a positive experience for Public Insight Network participants. I think our system works best ...

When questions are relevant to you

I sent the job fair query to people who had said they were a freelancer, unemployed or self-employed -- people who may be on a job hunt.

The main question was, "If you have been to any job fairs recently, tell us about it. What was your experience like?"

Although I did not assume they attended a job fair, there was no opportunity for them to talk about why they haven't. Maybe some good questions to include would have been:

  • Have you considered attending a job fair but decided not to? How come?
  • Are there job fairs related to your field of expertise?
  • What other ways may you be utilizing to help you on your job hunt?

When people tell us what they're really thinking

Some respondents simply answered "none" or "no" to the main question. Answers like those provide very little insight. Luckily, at the end of the form, I ask if you give permission to contact or quote you. So with Richard, I knew I could reach out to him and follow-up.

And his response was great!

Hello Walyce,

There are two reasons why I haven't been to any job fairs recently. 1) The ones I find out about do not include music positions as available. 2) They feel like cattle calls in which there is no opportunity to showcase one's skills. My passion is the conductor's podium in front of a concert band. I have a passion for the music. That seems to go over certain peoples heads. I have never asked for much. Just to show what I can do on the conductor's podium.


Richard Williams

With that, I learned a lot more about Richard as well as how job fairs do not cater to musically inclined people.

When we keep in touch

Thanks to your feedback -- and Richard's -- we can improve the way WNYC journalists can better communicate with you.

You can begin sharing your insights here: