Europe has launched a continent-wide recruitment fair for economists to help universities make better hiring decisions.
Nearly 700 early career economists descended on Naples earlier this month to face a barrage of 30-minute interviews from more than 100 recruiters – including universities, research centres, central banks and corporations – who hired hotel rooms to grill candidates.
Modelled on the American Economic Association’s annual jobs fair, the idea is that a bigger job market means both institutions and candidates have more options, and end up with better matches.
Eliana La Ferrara, a professor of economics at Bocconi University and president of the European Economic Association, which organised the event, said that, until now, many universities in Europe had only recruited locally.
There are already national job fairs for economists in the UK and Spain, she said, but this new European market is three to four times as big. “The idea is to integrate these markets and help institutions to choose from a broader group,” she said.
It was a “very good question” why other academic subjects had not followed economics and set up giant recruitment markets for academics, instead tending to rely on individual job adverts, Professor La Ferrara continued.
“For us [economists] it’s very natural to think of demand and supply,” she said.
Candidates were not actually offered jobs at the market, but instead could win the chance to fly out to the recruiting university for a more thorough series of interviews and talks.
Nevertheless, official advice for candidates flying to Naples suggests a gruelling process. “If you have a busy schedule, you may have no time for lunch: bring power bars,” candidates were advised. “If possible, try to schedule the interviews with your favourite match in the (late) morning. By the afternoon you will be tired, and your interviewers will be tired.”
The EEA’s new jobs fair has a long way to go to match its well-established US rival. That event typically attracts more than 10,000 delegates. The last meeting, held in Philadelphia last January, packed delegates into no fewer than 35 official hotels, and laid on a kindergarden for their children.