Don’t be discouraged by slim market, says job fair organizer

September 29, 2009 9:46:00 AM

Jason Browne - [email protected]


This year''s Golden Triangle Employment Expo will have two stages. The first is intended for everyone; the second is strictly for military veterans. 


And organizers say job seekers may find what they''re looking for at the annual Employment Expo Oct. 7, if they follow a few simple guidelines. 


Organizers of the expo are reminding potential employees to treat the event, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Pohl Gymnasium on the Mississippi University for Women campus, as an official job interview. 


"The point we want to get across is dress for an interview," said Skip McLaughlin, an Employment Expo committee member. "We want to tell them not to bring their children, have their resumes in order and have a listing of work history and references in case they have to fill out an application on the spot." 


More than applications have taken place on the spot during past Employment Expos according to Towanda Williams, assistant director of career services at MUW and chairwoman of the Employment Expo committee. 


"Several (companies) did hire people on the spot last year," said Williams, who expects around 75 employers and 1,500 job seekers to attend the event. 


And, she said, presentation and attitude are of the utmost importance, even if the experience doesn''t result in a job. 


"Be eager to learn from the process and be serious. Employers are looking for people who are seriously looking for a job," she said. 


"This gives the individual an opportunity not just to apply for work, but it''s also a good educational experience," added McLaughlin. "If they don''t leave with a job, they''ve learned a lot." 


Williams acknowledged the job market is slim this year, but said that''s no reason to assume companies aren''t hiring. The list of employers attending the expo is growing on a daily basis, she noted. 


Industries represented by multiple employers at this year''s expo will include manufacturing, law enforcement, utilities, education and sales among several others. 


As of Monday, 33 companies had registered for the event, 11 of which are Columbus companies, including Severstal, Mississippi University for Women, Ikon Solutions, the CPI Group, DynCorp and Aflac; three are Starkville agencies -- Sitel, Urban Radio and Mississippi State University. No employers from other Golden Triangle-area cities had registered for the event Monday morning. Employers from Jackson, Ridgeland, Flowood, Tucker, Ga., Murfreesboro, Tenn. and Provo, Utah also are slated to attend the event. 


After the public event, beginning at 5 p.m. at the WIN Job Center on North Frontage Road near the Golden Triangle Airport exit on Highway 82, around 22 representatives from medical, educational and other veteran advocacy groups will meet with veterans for Veteran Education and Assistance Night. 


McLaughlin said the event was moved to the WIN Job Center to provide ample space after 300 veterans attended the last Veteran Night three years ago.