Applicants swarm IT job fair

More than 17,000 Americans applied for information technology jobs with the federal government during the first nationwide "virtual" IT job fair, prompting two federal chief information officers to predict that the resulting new hires will be highly qualified.

The response to the job fair — co-hosted by the Office of Personnel Management and the federal CIO Council — was so heavy that on April 22, the fair's first day, OPM added two more servers to handle the traffic flow. The fair, which generated more than 1 million "hits" to the site in the first two and a half days, ended April 26.

Because the job fair offered only 270 job openings, the massive response meant that on average, 63 applicants vied for each position, Ira Hobbs, acting CIO for the Agriculture Department, said at a panel discussion April 26 hosted by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.

"Obviously that's the ratio that we're excited about," said Hobbs, co-chairman of the CIO Council's Workforce and Human Capital for IT Committee.

He was asked if all of those thousands of applicants will turn out to be qualified. "My gut reaction is yes, because they come from such widely dispersed backgrounds and locations," Hobbs said.

The State Department held two Web-enabled recruiting events in 1999 that served as the prototypes for last week's job fair. State's two events attracted more than 2,300 applicants, "and the quality of 90 percent of the applications we received was very high," Fernando Burbano, State's CIO, said during the AFCEA panel discussion.

Burbano said he has visited several U.S. embassies overseas where many of the people hired following the online events are now working.

"People in the embassies are very enthusiastic about the employees that we sent them," he said. "If we get the same quality of people from this event, we'll be doing well — and I think we'll get that quality."

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