Job hopefuls seek help from business fair

Wednesday, November 7, 2007 | 10:03 p.m. CST; updated 6:42 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

COLUMBIA — Kevin Doyle has been in town for six months and hasn’t found a job.

Finding a job can be a long process, he said, but he’s still optimistic.

“It’s hit or miss,” Doyle said. “If you put out enough applications, one will hit.”

That job search brought him to Job Point’s Fall Business Fair on Wednesday, where he attended the employer expo and picked out applications he thought best suited his background in shipping and warehouse work.

Job Point, a nonprofit organization that specializes in assisting people to enter the workforce, hosted the fair at its north Columbia headquarters to help job seekers practice interviewing skills and to bring clients together with local businesses. Job Point holds two fairs a year, but the organization works closely with its clients throughout the year to help them find and retain employment.

Many of Job Point’s clients are referred from the state’s Vocational Rehabilitation division. Job Point assesses each person’s obstacles, which can include mental or physical disabilities due to aging.

Susan McGee, branch manager at Job Point’s Columbia resource center, said the thing most of their clients have in common is a lack of confidence.

“A lot of people have just been beaten down,” McGee said. “A lot of it is starting from scratch.”

During the business fair, which drew about 100 people, Job Point presented workshops focusing on resume critiques and self-presentation. The fair also featured an employer expo, where 35 businesses were represented.

The City of Columbia was one of the employers that attended, looking to fill positions including temporary jobs in Public Works and an engineering aide in Parks and Recreation. American Air Filter was hiring for technology positions and looking for a human resources administrator, while ResCare HomeCare was looking for nurses to help provide services to the elderly and disabled.

The fair is a good opportunity for ResCare HomeCare, representative Lena Sapp said.

“It’s allowing us to meet various applicants and get our name out in the community,” Sapp said.

Crystal Elliott stumbled upon the employer expo by accident and ended up picking up applications for her husband, who recently got out of the Air Force. She progressed down the line of employers and said she was pleasantly surprised when she was offered so many applications and information packets, including one from the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

When it comes to success in finding employment, McGee said an individual’s dedication and personal motivation is key.

“Most of the people want employment,” McGee said. “They want to feel needed.”

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