By Charles Warner
UNION COUNTY — If you are looking for a job and hope to be successful doing it, what you do you before a job fair? What do you do during the job fair? What do you do after it?
The Union County Industry Job Fair will be held Thursday from 2-7 p.m. at the Union County Advanced Technology Center. It is being sponsored by the UCATC, SCWorks, and the Union County Development Board and will be different from other job fairs in that it is designed to provide on-site interview opportunities between job-seekers and representatives of companies that will be participating.
Another unique feature of the job fair is the involvement of the sponsoring agencies in trying to help job-seekers prepare for the fair.
“For the past several weeks we have not only promoted the job fair, but have worked with job-seekers to help them prepare to attend the job fair,” UCATC Site Coordinator forms including a program on “How To Turn A Job Fair Into A Job Offer” presented at the SCWorks office on Main Street in Union by Jennifer Little, director of the Spartanburg Community College Career Services Office. The SCWorks office was also the site of a series of “Preferred Pass” workshops which SCWorks Center Manager Katherine Pendergrass said would not only get help participants prepare for the job fair, but also enable them to gain a Preferred Pass admitting them to the job fair an hour before the doors were opened to the general public.
Another effort on the part of the sponsors to help prepare job-seekers is an email Lancaster sent out to those considering attending the job fair explaining how much the Internet and social media have changed job fairs and how job-seekers who want to get a job have had to change as well.
“Once upon a time, prospective job candidates could just show up at a job fair without doing a lot of homework,” Lancaster said. “Those days are long gone thanks to the Internet and social media — they have definitely changed the rules of the game. Today, two-thirds to three-fourths of a prospect’s work happens before they get to the job fair.”
Lancaster then outlined what job-seekers should do before, during and after any job fair including Thursday’s.
1. Develop a strong resume to highlight your skills and accomplishments.
2. Study the organizations attending the job fair.
Lancaster pointed out that the benefits of studying the companies that will be attending the job fair will maximize the job-seeker’s time and effort by enabling them, first, to get to know which employers are participating. In addition, Lancaster said that such information will enable job-seekers to strategically visit employer booths and learn about career paths they may not have previously considered.
3. Develop your elevator speech — think of this as a self-promotional commercial you deliver to each employer who asks that all-important question “Tell me a little about yourself.”
Your elevator speech communicates who you are, what you are looking for and how you can benefit a company or organization. It’s typically about 30 seconds, the time it takes people to ride from the top to the bottom of a building in an elevator.
1. Introduce yourself and shake hands — in many ways a job fair is a test of job-seekers social skills.
2. Dress appropriately — business casual, but not too casual.
To help encourage job-seekers attending Thursday’s job fair to dress appropriately for the fair and interviews, a “Most Professionally Dressed” contest will be held. The winner of the contest will receive two tickets to Biltmore Estates.
3. Ask intelligent questions — if you have done your homework and studied the organizations I’m sure there are questions to ask.
4. Focus on what you can offer.
5. Leave your resume with the representatives and don’t forget to pick up the industry reps’ business cards.
1. Jot down notes about the conversations you had with the reps.
2. Follow up on any promises.
3. Send thank you notes.
Lancaster pointed out that when employers participate in a job fair, job-seekers must “make the most of this opportunity to present yourself favorably, gather information, and meet new contacts. This will be the best networking party you have ever attended. Your investment of time and effort — before, during and after — might well turn into an opportunity you would not have otherwise had.”
While the Internet and social media are important factors in today’s job market, Lancaster said they are no substitute for the face-to-face contact provided by on-site interviews.
“When you send an employment application through the mail or online it could take weeks for a call back,” Lancaster said. “Ata job fair HR and hiring managers are on-site to conduct on the spot interviews. Depending on how well the interview goes, you may even receive a job offer that same day.”
The following companies will be participating in Thursday’s job fair:
The companies participating in the Union County Industry Job Fair include:
• Construction Resource Group
• Standard Textile
• Belk Distribution
• Dollar General Distribution
• Vapor Apparel
• Milliken (both local plants)
• Union County School District
• The Town of Carlisle
The following positions will be available for job-seekers at the fair:
• Biotech Staff
• Waste Water Construction
• General Warehouse
• Bus Drivers
• Production & Machine Operators
• Sewing Operators
• Forklift Operators
• Material Handlers
In addition to providing job-seekers with opportunities for face-to-face interviews with the participating companies, the job fair will also provide them with “resume checkups.” The checkups will be conducted by the director the SCC Career Services Office who will critique resumes and offers suggestions for improving them. Job-seekers can then use an online template at the Advanced Technology Center (www.sccsc.edu/tips/) to retype their resumes and make the recommended changes.
The job fair will also make extensive use of social media including providing job-seekers with the opportunity to put selfies on Facebook or other social media sites in a professional selfie area. There will also be a hashtag — #mfgjobsunion.sc — that job-seekers can use.
In addition, there will be a cookout during the duration of the job fair with free food served by local officials to the job-seekers and company representatives.
For more information about the Union County Industry Job Fair call 864-466-1060.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or firstname.lastname@example.org.