October 16, 2017 12:11:09 PM
According to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES), there are 4,130 eligible workers in the Golden Triangle without a job.
Ken McLaughlin hopes to do something about that.
McLaughlin, a retired MDES administrator, is the coordinator for the 21st annual Employment Expo, which will be held from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday at the American Legion Hall on Chubby Drive in Columbus.
McLaughlin said the event is an opportunity to put employers and job-seekers in face-to-face contact, something that happens less and less in the era of online job application process.
"It's a chance to make personal contact rather than just looking at a resume," McLaughlin said. "For employers, it's an economical way to approach hiring. Normally, interviewing job candidates on a daily basis can be time-consuming and expensive. This gives employers a chance to make contact with a lot of job candidates, make those initial contacts and kick-start the application process."
For job-seekers, it's a chance to see what kind of work is in demand, break the ice with potential employers and make an impression.
"I would advise people who are looking for a job to treat this like a job interview," McLaughlin said. "First impressions are important. So dress accordingly, don't bring your children. Basically, do what you would do if you were going on a job interview."
McLaughlin said more than three dozen companies have requested space for the one-day event, which he expects to draw 400 to 500 job-seekers.
"One of the things I've noticed in the seven years I've been coordinating this job fair is that a lot of people discover that they have transferable skills that they can use to find a job," he said. "There may be a job out there that you are qualified for but never considered. With so many different kinds of companies in one place, this is an ideal situation for that."
More than 30 employers are slated to recruit at the fair, ranging from banks and education institutions to restaurants and industry/manufacturing.
Paulette Lewis, human resources manager at Kirby Building Mississippi in Starkville, said this will be the company's second appearance at the Columbus job fair.
"Generally, we hire through temp services for our production workers and our professional and office workers, we pick up through word of mouth, our job postings on the company website and internally," Lewis said. "But we wanted to see what is out there, what kind of skills people have."
The company is looking for welders, fitters, sheet mill operators, drafters and engineers.
Lewis said there is another benefit for the company in participating in the job fair.
"We think it also helps get our name out there, too," she said. "We've changed our name -- we used to be Gulf States Manufacturing -- so even though we have been around for a long, long time, people may not be familiar with us and who we are."
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is email@example.com.
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