At job fairs, the benefits add up

Friday, Sept. 21, 2007

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Staff Photos by Paul C. Leibe
Shanequa Bailey, left, of St. Mary’s Hospital chats with the College of Southern Maryland’s Joyce Embrey during a recent job fair at the Southern Maryland Center for Higher Education.

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Army National Guard recruiter Sgt. Lauretta Dickerson, left, and Rose Willett, director of human resources for the Spring Dell Center, talk during the job fair at the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center.

Still looking for a job?

A job fair will be held from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Waldorf Jaycees Community Center, 3090 Crain Highway, Waldorf.

The fair will be sponsored by the Charles County Department of Social Services’ employment resource center.

For information or to sign up a business, call 301-392-6497.

Hiring a new employee is not just a business decision, it is also a personal, emotional one. A new hire is going to be spending a lot of time each day in the office, making an in-person interview essential.

That’s where job fairs come in.

Usually housed in convention halls or community centers, job fairs bring as many employers as possible together, giving potential employees a chance to scan businesses and hear pitches.

Trisha Gipson, human resources generalist for the Arc of Southern Maryland, said participating in a recent job fair in St. Mary’s County gives the organization a chance to tell people about the Arc.

‘‘A lot of people are not familiar with what Arc is,” she said. ‘‘People have a huge misconception that our consumers require a lot of total care.”

So, Gipson and Kateryna Kupin of Waldorf, a support specialist for the Arc, manned a booth during the job fair Sept. 13 put on by Southern Maryland Newspapers at the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center.

Kupin said they were trying to fill several positions in which employees would deal directly with Arc’s consumers.

‘‘We’re looking for someone with flexibility, a high school diploma, a driver’s license. We prefer experience, but we can train,” Gipson said. For an organization such as Arc, job fairs have a different benefit than they do for some businesses. Gipson said she could gather information and make contacts with other employers.

‘‘We meet different employers, so we meet with people who might employ our consumers,” she said.

Kupin said she knows the benefits of a job fair herself. She found her current job while attending a different fair with a friend. Kupin had no intention of even looking, but ended up starting at Arc soon after. She has been with the organization for three years.

Danielle Wright of the Abilities Network was looking to fill fieldwork positions at the fair and said being on location offers a better perspective to potential employees.

‘‘When you come to a job fair, you get to meet the company or agency face to face,” Wright said.

Latreviett Matthews is a job developer for the Charles County Department of Social Services and has a hand in preparing for an upcoming job fair by that agency. Matthews said a job fair is almost like an interview.

‘‘You’re one-on-one talking with recruiters and HR people,” she said. ‘‘If you’re sending in a paper or faxing, you don’t really get any feedback,” but in person at a fair, a potential employee might get a few tips on working on their resume.

Jeffrey Jenkins of Southern Maryland Home Health Services, which has offices in Clinton and Leonardtown, was looking for registered nurses, speech therapists and other home health aides. Jenkins said the agency goes to a couple of job fairs each year, hoping to fill positions as well as get leads for future positions.

‘‘Even if a job fair lands us one RN, that’s a positive job fair for us,” Jenkins said.

Shanequa Bailey works in recruiting and human relations for St. Mary’s Hospital in Leonardtown and manned a booth at the job fair. She also said the hospital was looking for nursing and medical staff.

‘‘We’re mostly hoping to come in contact with that right person,” Bailey said. ‘‘It’s always good to relate a face to the actual person.”

Mary Kay Cosmetics was represented at the Southern Maryland Newspapers job fair by Pam Higgs of Newburg and Karen Weightman of La Plata.

Weightman said that while the company often recruits people at home parties and through word-of-mouth, attending the fair had the potential to bring new sales people to the company.

Weightman said she and Higgs were looking to recruit people who are willing to work and who want more earning potential doing a job that can be done from home.

‘‘You have to have a sincere, want-to-help-somebody-type attitude,” Weightman said.

Waldorf Ford was represented at the fair by General Manager Greg Basiliko, who said he was looking to fill positions in sales and accounting, to start.

Other than looking for employees, Basiliko said the fair gives his company a chance to come out into the community and get to know people.

‘‘It gives us the opportunity to meet them, and them the opportunity to meet us,” he said.

Sherri Weber of Loveville said she came to the job fair with her brother. Weber has a job at a liquor store, but said she was picking up applications while she was there, in case anything looked appealing.

‘‘I’m just looking around,” she said, because she would be open to a different line of work, ‘‘something a little more fulfilling.”

Jennie Plott of Job Connection had a booth at the job fair, inviting people to come and see what the nonprofit organization had available. Plott said people can bring her their resume and fill out an application, and the group helps them with their job search. Being at the fair, she said, gave her a chance to get out of the office and meet people.

‘‘It’s more hands-on,” she said. ‘‘I deal with a computer every day. It’s more diverse.”

For technical companies, job fairs make it easy to gather resumes that may come in handy for future contracts. Pam Hockenberry works for Sabre Systems and was at the job fair looking to fill information technology positions for current contracts, as well as two new ones.

‘‘A new contract can amount to a lot of new employees,” Hockenberry said.

E-mail Carrie Lovejoy at