Career Fair brings employers, hundreds of job seekers together

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Jason Criddle's long-time job as a forklift operator is about to be eliminated along with other layoffs at his company. But instead of settling for a lesser-paying job elsewhere, the 32-year-old Delta resident on Tuesday decided to check out his options.

Criddle went to the fourth annual Career Fair, sponsored by and the Southeast Missourian. He was one of 333 participants in the job fair.

Booths were set up inside the Show Me Center in Cape Gir-ardeau with jobs across the spectrum, from white-collar work like selling insurance to blue-collar carpenter jobs.

Criddle milled about the Show Me Center -- along with hundreds of others throughout the day -- sifting through applications, chatting with employers and others seeking work for a variety of reasons.

"It's tough to find a good job," Criddle said. "To make the wages I'm making now, it's tough to find something like that."

Forty-four companies from St. Louis to Memphis, Tenn., set up booths to accept applications and talk to prospective employees for a wide variety of positions. Some of the employees there included River Radio, Avon, Havco, Panera Bread, the Missouri Army National Guard, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police and McDonald's.

Employers said the Career Fair is a good way to offer potential employees information about their company.

"It's a wonderful local resource to help area employers find employees," said event organizer and recruitment specialist Nancy Grand. "It's also the only career fair in the region that is a mix of university students and community members."

Dale Davault, president and CEO of Davault Marketing Group, said he was looking for outgoing agents for his funeral insurance company. He has 40 agents in 10 states and he'd like 10 more.

"I like that it's just not college students," he said. "My recruiting effort is more for people who come through here. I'm looking for college, too, but not just college."

Davault said he has participated in the Career Fair last year and he got 15 to 20 responses, which culminated in a hiring or two. He considers that a success.

"I wouldn't have come back if I didn't have some success last year," he said.

Joe Pupek, direct sales coordinator for the regional office of Aflac, said he's participated in the Career Fair for three or four years. He said he's gotten some great resumes in the past.

"If I get one person a year from the Career Fair, it's worth it," he said.

Dave Moss is a recruiter for the Missouri Department of Corrections. He said in a field with high turn-over, such a career fair is invaluable.

"I don't hire on the spot," he said. "We test people. Last year, we tested six people and hired three of those. So it works."

Mary Jo Stockwell of Gordonville said it's good to have all the employers in one place. Stockwell, a surgical nurse, is out on medical leave after having knee surgery. She said she was looking for a job where she won't have to stand as much.

She wasn't sure she found a job that would suit her, but she said she was glad she came.

"It seems like a good thing for the community," she said.

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