An interview-ready suit, firm handshake, multiple resume copies, and a 50-words-or-less hiring sales pitch are essentials for the more than 5,000 job seekers expected to participate in Friday's job fair at the Lucas County Recreation Center.
The "Get Northwest Ohio Back to Work" event, sponsored by The Source, The Blade, and WTOL-TV Channel 11, has lined up more than 100 business and education organizations to do just that.
"If you make an impression on that employer, they will make a note on that resume," said Marte Sorg, a Lucas County work-force outreach coordinator. "[Job seekers] have to show they are more interested than the 4,999 other people that they met that day at the job fair." It is scheduled from noon to 4 p.m. at the recreation center, 2901 Key St., Maumee. Parking is available on site.
She said a total of 116 companies have signed up, calling that an "absolutely incredible" response from the business community.
Ms. Sorg said those companies include ones looking for employees to fill entry-level jobs and ones requiring more training as well as some that have no current openings but want to collect resumes to keep on file.
Employers representing the service, retail, and health-care sectors are among those expected to take part. A number of educational organizations also are participating to get people ready for new careers.
"It's really a nice mix," Ms. Sorg said. "There's something for everybody."
Bill Gilligan, with Primerica Financial Services in Holland, is hoping to find five candidates to train to help people with financial decisions such as insurance and retirement plans.
A nose for numbers is good, but a strong personality is what he's looking for. "I can teach the rest," he said.
Mr. Gilligan plans to pick up as many resumes as possible and talk to people there as well as set up appointments with potential hires. He's been participating in job fairs for some time and expects this week's event to be at least twice as large as it's been in the past.
Mr. Gilligan encourages the participants to take full advantage of the opportunity to learn about the businesses there.
"A lot of people walk up and down the aisle and just look at you. Don't be afraid. We're all there for the same reason," he said. "Come up and shake our hands. Let's not be shy."
The job fair follows a career camp this month that helped those out of work brush up on their job-search skills.
"They got some training on how to look for a job that hopefully they'll be able to put to good use on May 1," Ms. Sorg said.
Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop, one of the organizers of the career camp and job fair, said both events are important for local residents trying to pick themselves up from a job loss or other difficult circumstance brought on by northwest Ohio's harsh economy.
"One thing that really struck me at the career camp was the resolve of so many of the people who are looking for jobs," Mr. Konop said. "Some of them are people with college degrees, many have been laid off from decent-paying jobs, and all of them are fighting for themselves or their families."
More opportunities to get ready for the fair will be available this week.
The Source will be full of working professional volunteers today and tomorrow to review resumes and make sure they are detailed and error-free. An appointment is required.
And for potential attendees who don't have resumes, a workshop is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. today at The Source to get one started.
Last-minute recap workshops - "Are You Ready for the Job Fair?" - will be at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Wednesday at The Source.
"It's so competitive out there you need to take every advantage that's out there for you," Ms. Sorg said.
Bruce Rumpf, chief executive officer of Job1USA, which is participating in the job fair, said a number of entities are working together to help people get the skills to find employment and give them hope.
"We need to make sure they get into the system so they are not lost or giving up because the economy is so tough," he said.
He also considers a role of employers at the job fair to be to direct people to the fields where jobs are now and will be in the future in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.
For more information about the job fair or to register for preparation resources, call The Source at 419-213-6309.
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