Michelle Smith

Michelle Smith, employer engagement analyst for the South Central Workforce Development Council. 

If you want to work, now is the time to look for a job. Businesses small and large are hiring, and most are struggling to fill their open positions. To make it easier for both job seekers and potential employers to connect, the South Central Workforce Council and WorkSource have partnered to organize a series of job fairs this month:

Yakima Job Fair, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 18, Yakima Convention Center, 10 N. Eighth St., Yakima.

Sunnyside Job Fair, 8:30 a.m. to noon Thursday, Aug. 19, outside WorkSource Sunnyside, 1925 Morgan Road, Sunnyside.

Ellensburg Job Fair, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24, Hal Holmes Community Center inside the Public Library, 201 Ruby St., Ellensburg.

At these events, you can expect to see a variety of companies from construction and manufacturing to agriculture and food production, as well as organizations representing the hospitality industry, education, health care and much more. Several employment agencies will also be present to showcase their own wide range of opportunities. (Because of space limitations, we have actually had to turn some businesses away from these public hiring events.)

If you haven’t looked for work in a while, here’s a quick primer on job fairs. A job fair is like speed dating; you have just a few minutes to make a first — and hopefully good — impression on a potential employer. This means prepare for the job fair.

Dress to impress, make eye contact and smile. Get a baby sitter (or bring someone with you to watch your children in the event lobby). Bring multiple copies of your resume with you since you won’t have access to a copier or printer.

Research. Find out what companies will be participating in the job fair, then check them out online. Visit their websites and see what they do/make/help. (Don’t have a computer? WorkSource offices are open and their resource rooms have free computers.) Use the information you gather to make conversation. Never walk up to a recruiter and say, “What does your company do?” or worse yet, “I’m willing to do anything.” Both these statements tell a potential employer you don’t care enough to research and/or you’re desperate.

My last tip. Leave your cellphone in your car. One of three hiring managers polled said they would eliminate a candidate for looking at his or her phone during their conversation/interview. That said, you may want to use your cellphone after the job fair to email your resume or fill out a job application.

All the job fairs noted above are free of charge and open to all job seekers. Most employers require workers to be at least 18 years old. For the safety of all involved, masks will be required for all participants regardless of vaccination status, and social distancing is encouraged.

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