KRA/VIEW Hosts Successful Community Job Fair

Last week it was reported that NavTech Group, Inc. (NGI) was awarded a Navy contract, and needed to staff-up immediately to begin work on the obligation.  NGI contacted the Norfolk Workforce Development Center (NWDC) and the KRA/Virginia Initiative for Employment not Welfare (VIEW) Program to assist in filling 150 open positions! Part of the article read, “…the KRA/VIEW team of Employment Specialists sprang into action, combing case files for candidates meeting NGI’s staffing requirements.” Consequently, on June 6th, in collaboration with NWDC staff, a well-organized “hiring blitz” resulted in more than 100 NGI openings being filled!

A feat in and of itself, what is more remarkable is that at the same time, KRA/VIEW was planning to host a large Job Fair to benefit community residents and employers.  The event, which was open to non-VIEW jobseekers, as well as KRA customers, was advertised and promoted through e-flyers and personal visits by staff to community partners, including the Union Mission, the Salvation Army, and the local offices of the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) and Housing Authority.

When asked what precipitated the career fair at this time, Alisha Bazemore, KRA/VIEW Program Manger, responded, “Last year, the Department of Labor’s [DOL] Employment and Training Administration [ETA] announced June as American Job Fair Month, the goal being to create opportunities to promote DOL/ETA services to both jobseeker- and business-customers.  In its announcement, DOL encouraged local WIBS and One-Stops, which are funded by ETA, to participate by sponsoring a Job Fair during June.  Our TANF program is not part of that system, but as an integral part of the nation’s workforce development system, we decided to participate anyway.  What’s more, even though DOL did not make the announcement until April 2012, KRA/VIEW was able to organize a successful Job Fair in June 2012; so we decided to organize one every year.”

As a result, on June 20th, KRA/VIEW hosted “National Job Fair Month 2013”, and according to Ninette Adams, Employment Specialist (ES), “The Job Fair was a resounding success! Nearly 100 jobseekers attended the event, 58 of whom were VIEW participants, and 42 community residents.  We were successful in attracting 20 employers, including private-sector businesses, public-sector organizations, and institutions of higher education.  A valuable subset of participants included representatives from community partners…Clear Point Credit Counseling, Educational Opportunity Center, Community Collaboration Center, and Pathways… on hand to advise interested attendees about auxiliary services that could enhance their job-search efforts.”

Part of the planning process included a confirmation form sent to all registered employers for them to indicate which positions they needed to fill.  Based on that information, KRA staff selected VIEW customers who qualified to complete online applications prior to the Job Fair so that the employers could target those candidates for onsite interviews.  Confirmation forms indicated a wide variety of open positions: Kentucky Fried Chicken and Chick-fil-A interviewing for cooks and food-service workers; Kroger Foods looking for cashiers and stockers; Caring for You Homecare Services, Community Personal Care, and Care Advantage, Inc. seeking Certified Nursing Assistants, In-Home Counselors, Personal Care Aides, and Nurses; JCA Hair Studio Academy interviewing for Hair Stylists;  Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation looking for Camp Leaders/Assistants; and Wells Fargo seeking Bank Tellers.

Representatives from Bryant & Stratton College, DeVry University, ITT Technical Institute, and Stratford University attended with a dual mission.  In addition to interviewing for Faculty Instructor, Librarian, and Registrar positions, they provided much-needed information for attendees interested in starting or continuing their education.  Tiffany Haynes, KRA/VIEW Instructor Supervisor and winner of NAWDP’s 2013 Jodie Spiegel Enhancement of Customer Service Award, reported, “I was particularly pleased to see my ‘partners in education’ there.  In addition to attending our Job Fair, these dedicated educators also participate in our Job Readiness Academy/REAL Center Training Workshops every month!”

When asked if there were any on-the-spot hires, Bazemore replied, “Many people might believe that the success of Job Fairs is measured by that yardstick, but it is not.  Of course, the ultimate goal is the matching of jobseekers and employers leading to employment, but the primary purpose and value lies in networking…not immediate hiring.  All in one place, jobseekers get to interact with many potential employers, and recruiters get to collect resumes and meet a lot of candidates one-on-one.  Initial decisions may be made on the basis of onsite interviews, but that is just the beginning.  HR managers have to schedule more in-depth interviews; conduct background checks; and confirm the information on the resumes.”

Bazemore continued, “Based on the results of our Employer/Vendor Survey, the Job Fair was very successful in meeting its primary goal.   One rep responded that the ’Job Fair was well organized and planned, which made it easy to connect with applicants’, and another reported, the ‘Job Fair provided the opportunity to share our services and to provide employment  to jobseeker-candidates that [we] intend to contact for future interviews’.”

Adams concluded, “Our National Job Fair Month 2013 would not have been possible without the efforts of all our KRA/VIEW staff, the NWDC, and the many volunteers who assisted.  We are excited to have provided connections for our VIEW participants to so many businesses in our Norfolk and surrounding areas, and are confident that these connections will lead to full-time employment for many of the attendees.  However, taking nothing for granted, our ES Team will be contacting employers and VIEW jobseekers to conduct follow-up on the results of their participation in the Job Fair.  I believe in 2012 and 2013, we have set a very promising precedent in the community, and look forward to planning for National Job Fair Month 2014!”