Spring is here, and that means another job fair is scheduled for May 5, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Carroll County Business and Employment Resource Center! BERC offers many free services to Carroll County businesses and the job fair is just one of them. One of the biggest challenges we hear from businesses is that they sometimes struggle in attracting skilled workers who can help the business prosper and grow. BERC recommends job fairs, which provide many benefits to companies that attend them.

One of those benefits is that you gain access to a large number of job candidates in one location. Typically a business can prescreen several dozen candidates over a span of a few hours. Many businesses use a job fair as the initial screening through which they meet potential employees in person and put a face to a resume. Strong candidates are then offered a more-formal interview at a later date. Some businesses have shared that they found applicants who possessed skills for a position not currently available with the company, but they decided to interview the candidate anyway for possible future employment.

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If the company has had difficulty finding candidates, a job fair is a great way to promote the company and let candidates know why it is a great company in which to work. If there is room for growth within the organization it is also helpful if the recruiter explains that and shares examples of those who have had success in the organization. This can help when trying to fill entry-level positions that can be hard to fill.

It is important that the recruiter is knowledgeable about the company and the positions available. Just as the job seeker hopes to make a great first impression, it is equally as important that the recruiter characterizes the business in a welcoming, friendly and professional manner. As the unemployment rate continues to decline the supply of labor will become more competitive in a job seekers' market. Therefore it is crucial that your recruiter, the face of your company, represent well your company culture and good working environment. If possible, have information about your company available and bring a display that explains the company and its products or services.

One mistake some businesses make at a job fair is to spend too much time speaking to candidates while a line of people interested in working for your company forms. Unfortunately, your very best next employee could have walked away because they did not have the time to wait. Plan to spend a set amount of time talking to each applicant to get a feel for who they are and what they can offer your company. Make notes on their resume about whether you want to see them again, then move on to the next person in line.

Job fairs are still a very viable method of recruitment, and many businesses have told us they have found excellent employees using this approach. If you are unable to attend the BERC job fair on May 5, we can post your job openings and accept applications for you. BERC can also hold a company specific recruitment event at our center if you are hiring five or more employees. Please give us a call or email us for more information.

Denise Rickell is the manager of the Carroll County Business & Employment Resource Center, www.carrollworks.com, and can be reached at 410-386-2820 or drickell@ccg.carr.org.

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