A job fair is a terrific tool to help companies that are struggling to find qualified talent for skilled positions. Recently, I organized the MPACT Skilled Maintenance and Facilities Engineering Job Fair, held January 5 in a 20,000-sq.ft. facility in Greensboro, N.C. The turnout exceeded the expectations of the employers as well as the potential employees.
Several employers were asked to visit the line of candidates that snaked through the parking lot for the three-hour job fair. The employers collected their resumes. Many candidates met with three to five employers before even getting to our door.
We have never participated in a job fair with so many qualified candidates, says Roger Tee of UNICCO Corp.
I am not easily impressed with job fairs in general but, MPACTs job fair was well organized and well attended with a diverse crowd of people. Even our personnel representative, Ann Lupton, had not seen a job fair turnout like MPACTs for many years, says Tony Fisher, facilities director of Boddie Noell.
More than three dozen companies participated, including Miller Brewing, Merck, UNIFI, Metzler Automotive, Reagan, Dulles and BWI Airports, Loxcreen, National Textiles, EPES Transportation, ITT, GKN Driveline, Boddie Noell, Dart Container, AFG Wipes, Degussa Stockhausen, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, UNICCO and Bridgestone Firestone. These companies were seeking to fill more than 350 positions in skilled maintenance and facilities engineering. Hourly positions averaged from $17 to $25 per hour.
The great attendance from both employers and potential employees highlights the need for both groups to place greater emphasis on maintenance and reliability training, says Rob Bencini, director, Guilford County Community and Economic Development.
The outpouring of support was phenomenal. This area of the country has been hit hard by factory closings. Ive received reports that several follow-up interviews have been conducted and that several job offers have been extended.
The event also received extensive support from local and statewide media via television, radio and newsprint coverage. Also the North Carolina Department of Labor, North Carolina Workforce Development, Job Link Centers, VFW Posts, Chamber of Commerce Centers, and the Governors Rapid Response team notified employers, displaced workers, veterans, Katrina victims, and even laid off Northwest Airlines workers of the event.
Most importantly, the feedback from the job seekers was gratifying. Michael Holliman, who drove 10 hours from Detroit to attend the event, says, I have been contacted by several of the companies that were there and one has offered me employment in the Greensboro area.
The successful job fair inspired me to develop a list of the top 13 lucky qualities to land a job in skilled maintenance and facilities engineering:
- Be poor: Set high goals for yourself. Don't be satisfied with what you have. Strive for more.
- Be hungry: Be willing to do what ever it takes to get the job ethically.
- Be internally driven: Employers love to hire poor, hungry, and driven (PHD) talent because theyre internally motivated, self-correcting and strive for high standards. They can see the energy and enthusiasm in the interview.
- Be knowledgeable: Research the employers in advance by visiting their Web sites. Find out what types of equipment the employers use. Learn what type of manufacturing processes they employ. Determine what challenges the employers face.
- Be the answer: Think about what transferable skills you have to offer. Begin thinking about how you can help solve their problems. Invest in yourself. Take classes at technical schools and pursue certifications.
- Be confident: All they can do is to tell you no so go for it. Be willing to talk to the employers and to listen to what they say and don't say.
- Be service-driven: Focus on what you can do for them and not what they can do for you.
- Be enthusiastic: Believe in your product. If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will. Be able to talk in depth about your credentials, training, work experiences and other information that demonstrates your value to help them advance their business.
- Be charming: Explain to the employer why you would like to work for them.
- Be flexible: Be willing to consider multiple shifts, commuting or relocating for the right opportunity. Be willing to start at the bottom and work your way up.
- Be positive: Dress for success and focus on positive outcomes. Know your stuff and don't whine about wouldas, shouldas, couldas.
- Be connected: Attend job fairs and join professional organizations. The Web sites of the three largest engineering/management organizations are: www.afe.org, www.boma.org and www.ifma.org. Work to become an officer of an organization.
- Be persistent: Many times, the job goes to the one who wants it the most, so never give up.
There will be another job fair from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday, July 20, MPACT Learning Center, LLC, 2 Centerview Drive, Greensboro, N.C. Advance registration is not necessary and there will be 100 to 150 employers represented. Employers wanting a booth at the event should contact me at the address below.
Contact Joel Leonard at [email protected].
Maintenance man on TV
Leonard is a recurring columnist for www.plantservices.com and Plant Services magazine. He recently appeared on television discussing the changes that lie in store for the maintenance industry in the 21st century. To view the real time media clip, click here.