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Career fairs can enhance job seekers' chances of finding employment

The Public Jobs for the People job fair was held at First A.M.E. Church. Photos by Jason Lewis

Career

Applying for jobs online can be extremely frustrating, so City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson brought the jobs to the people.

 

LAWA First Source Hiring Program’s booth at the Public Jobs for the People fair.
 

By Megan Reed

Finding employment can be difficult in today’s job market.  Some people may think it is due to a job shortage, but that may not be the issue.  

“Right now, the voters of Los Angeles have created so many jobs right in our backyard, that there is no reason for anybody in Los Angeles to be unemployed,” said Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson.  

Harris-Dawson’s Council District 8 has one of the highest unemployment rates in Los Angeles.  One of the issues is the manner in which jobs are filled today.  Gone are the days when a person simply showed up at a company and asked for a job application.  Today, most businesses require that people apply through the company’s website, which is very impersonal.  With this method, job seekers are unable to make a good impression in person when they apply.

“A lot of times when you apply online, it’s blind,” Harris-Dawson said.  “You fill out the application, you hit send, and you get a note that says ‘thank you.’  You have no idea what to expect next.”

Waiting for a call back after submitting an online application can feel like playing the lottery.  Many job seekers feel like their number never comes up.  Because of the high unemployment rates in South Los Angeles areas, Harris-Dawson created the Public Jobs for the People job fair, which was held last month at First A.M.E. Church of Los Angeles.

Career fairs are held at numerous places in Los Angeles on a weekly basis, and it can increase a job seeker's chances of getting an interview.

“Here (at a job fair) you can have face-to-face communication with people who can tell you what the process is going to be,” Harris-Dawson said.

At the Public Jobs for the People fair, employers that participated had over a combined 3,000 jobs available.  Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) First Source Hiring Program was one of the 40+ companies that were on hand at the job fair.  The LAWA is hosting the 2017 LAX Fall Employment & Resource Fair on September 20 at the Hawthorne Memorial Center.

Sontue Beacham, a coordinator at the LAWA First Source Hiring Program, explains why job fairs can be more affective than simply applying online.

“A lot of jobs have you apply online, but a job fair will give the job seeker a chance to network,” she said.  “They can ask specific questions.  They can be in the face of the employer.”  

At a number of the booths at a job fair, the person manning the booth may very well be the person who reviews the applications and selects who will be interviewed.

“If you are able to make a good impression, they are going to remember you,” Beacham said.  

Beacham tells job seekers to treat career fairs like a job interview.  

“Always go prepared,” she said.  “You should go in your business attire as if you are prepared to interview on the spot.  Somebody may ask you questions on the spot.  That may be a quick interview.  You want to make a great first impression, so you want to be dressed nicely and professionally.”

Beacham also says to create business cards, which are very inexpensive, to hand out to employers who are not accepting applications.  Giving the business cards to other job seekers to share information later on can also be helpful.  

“It’s not always about networking with employers, it’s also networking with people who are walking right along side of you, on the same journey as yourself,” she said.

For more information about jobs in and around Council District 8, visit www.mhdcd8.com.  For more information about LAWA First Source Hiring Program, visit www.jobsatlax.org and follow them on social media.

Looking to start a small business? Contact Pacific Coast Regional Small Business Development Corporation.

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