Calling all job-seekers

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August 19, 2015 - 12:00 AM

The impending shutdown of Iola’s Herff Jones is the catalyst for an upcoming job fair, organized by Shelia Lampe, Iola Area Chamber of Commerce director, and KansasWorks, the state’s economic development engine.
Lampe said the job fair is intended not only for Herff Jones employees but for all area job-seekers.
“I wanted to do this fair before the first layoff so people can have a job to go to,” Lampe said. “This is home for so many people and we don’t want them to have to uproot.”
The job fair will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Aug. 28, at the Bass Community Hall, formerly known as the North Community Building, at 505 N. Buckeye St.
More than 24 employers from the southeast Kansas area will participate in the job fair.
“We will have everything from manufacturers to small business owners,” Lampe said.
The KansasWorks bus, a mobile unit with six to eight computers, will be available for people to print resumes or get help with their resumes.
Information on trade programs for individuals looking to go back to school to receive a vocational certificate will also be available. Allen, Fort Scott and Neosho community colleges will be present as well as Kansas State University.
Susie Ellis of the KansasWorks program said she strongly advises job-seekers to dress for success. She said there have been numerous times people arrive at their interviews in sweatpants or house slippers.
“If they come in like that for an interview, it really hurts their chances,” Lampe added. “You can’t take back a first impression.”
Ellis said it’s the soft skills many people are lacking when looking for a job.
“If there’s a company at the fair you know you want to work for, do your research on them to impress them,” Ellis said. “It will be a great benefit to you.”
Ellis oversees Allen, Neosho, Woodson and Labette counties for KansasWorks. Currently, Neosho has the highest unemployment rate, 8.1 percent as of June 2015, while employment in Labette County is booming.
“Jobs in Parsons are growing fast and employers are looking for people to fill them,” Ellis said. “The jobs are available. We are just needing people who are willing to work.”
Many employers tell Ellis that if an applicant is missing a certain skill, they are more than willing to train them.
“They tell me ‘I can train them to do A through D but I can’t train them to show up,’” Ellis said.
Employees who have been with a company for a long time often struggle to find a new job, Ellis said. And if they do find a new job, they have trouble settling for a lower wage.
“It’s hard on them because they’ve given their whole life to a job and it’s hard to accept a lower wage. It truly breaks my heart,” she said.
Another factor is the way the application process has been transformed. Thirty years ago, jobs were listed in newspapers. Now, the move is toward online applications. This can be convenient but sometimes applicants never hear back from employers.
At www.kansasworks.com people can search jobs in their region for free.
Lampe said many people struggle with writing a resume to promote the skills they have. “A lot of people have employable skills but they are unsure how to market themselves.”
Ellis said that is why job fairs are beneficial.
“At a job fair you have a chance to directly talk to the human resources person and talk about yourself,” Ellis said. “It’s all about networking.”
For more information on the job fair contact Ellis at 620-431-2820 ext. 634 or Lampe at the Chamber at 620-365-5252.

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