Job seek­ers at­tend fair in droves

More than 500 at­tended

The Covington News - - Front page - By Gabriel Khouli gkhouli@cov­

From his white hair to the gold-and-navy striped tie match­ing his navy sport coat, Steve Sikes stood out among the crowd of 500 job-seek­ers at a man­u­fac­turer-heavy job fair on Tues­day at DeKalb Tech­ni­cal Col­lege’s Cov­ing­ton cam­pus. It re­mains to be seen whether that was a good or bad thing.

SKC’s Cov­ing­ton plant was the im­pe­tus for the job fair as it has be­gun hir­ing work­ers for its new so­lar panel film pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity. The Korean-based com­pany was joined by rep­re­sen­ta­tives from C.R. Bard, Cla­iron Met­als, Old Cas­tle Glass, Solo Cup and lo­cal staffing firms.

Early in the morn­ing, the line of job-seek­ers stretched out the door and large crowds re­mained for hours. The fair could spur fur­ther im­prove­ment in the Metro Atlanta area’s em­ploy­ment num­bers, where the un­em­ploy­ment

rate im­proved slightly in March, de­creas­ing by 0.4 per­cent to 9.8 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of La­bor.

Sikes was one of the many ea­gerly search­ing for work, hav­ing been cut in a cor­po­rate down­siz­ing at a con­crete con­struc­tion com­pany seven months prior. He spent 13.5 years as in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy man­ager there but joined more than 1,000 fel­low em­ploy­ees in the un­em­ploy­ment line as the com­pany’s busi­ness crum­bled dur­ing the down­turn.

Sikes hasn’t had to look for a job for decades, gen­er­ally be­ing sought af­ter to transform tech­nol­ogy de­part­ments.

Now he’s left in a job mar­ket where’s he’s ei- ther overqual­i­fied or doesn’t meet the spe­cific qual­i­fi­ca­tions of the higher-level jobs. He also faces the “chal­lenge of not be­ing 30 any­more.”

He’s learn­ing a new job-hunt­ing game. Learn­ing how to write re­sumes and ac­cen­tu­ate skills in such a way to meet the re­quire­ment of the im­per­sonal job ap­pli­ca­tion soft­ware mak­ing those first cuts.

Tues­day’s job fair pro­vided him with a chance to show off his per­son­al­ity in front of hu­man re­source man­agers, but he isn’t the tar­geted type for pro­duc­tion-floor work­ers. How­ever, he knows the key for him is to keep ex­plor­ing, keep try­ing and keep a pos­i­tive attitude.

“There are a lot of peo­ple here hun­gry for work, and I’m one of them,” Sikes said. “Many peo­ple want to and need to work. It’s part of their be­ing. Not be­ing able to work is very dif­fi­cult.”

Cindy Wilder, a se­nior hu­man re­sources man­ager at C.R. Bard, said a con­fi­dent per­son, who’s not afraid to go af­ter what they want and can sell them­selves, is what she’s look­ing for in an em­ployee.

“We’re look­ing for pro­fes­sion­als. Not peo­ple in cut-off jeans who speak low, don’t make di­rect eye con­tact and don’t of­fer a hand­shake,” Wilder said. “Know what you want and sell your­self.”

Wilder said she was pleased with the “crazy good” turnout and saw a lot of good can­di­dates dur­ing the day.

That’s ex­actly what the fair’s spon­sors, the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of La­bor and Cov­ing­tonNew­ton County Cham­ber of Com­merce, want to hear.

Gabriel Khouli/The Cov­ing­ton News

Look­ing for work: Hun­dreds of job seek­ers at­tended the job fair at DeKalb Tech­ni­cal Col­lege Tues­day.

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