With resumes in-hand, many local job seekers were dressed to impress Wednesday morning, Livingston Workforce Services held its first job fair at the National Guard Armory in Pontiac.
    A total of 21 local employers, organizations and staffing agencies including Futures Unlimited, Life Center for Independent Living, The Boys and Girls Club, the U.S. Post Office and Evenglow were stationed around the armory’s gym to make face-to-face connections with job seekers from 10 a.m. to noon.
    Using mostly word-of-mouth and social media advertising for the event, Triscia Brubaker, outreach and business service specialist with Livingston Workforce Services in Pontiac, was pleased with the turnout.
    “Because this is our first time hosting an event like this, we had no idea how many people to anticipate,” Brubaker said. “However, we’ve had more than 30 people come in within the first hour, so we’re pleased with the results.”
    The decision was made to hold the event during the spring to entice recent high school graduates and because spring road conditions are typically more favorable than in the winter. Brubaker said these events are particularly helpful to job seekers who may be lacking in necessary work experience.
    “While they may not have the experience on their resume, these events allow job seekers to make a good impression on recruiters,” she said. “Sometimes, just being personable can be enough to help a person sell themselves a bit.”
    For the most part, Brubaker said the employers they contacted were willing to attend the event. In an effort to improve the event in the future, LWS asked both job seekers and employers to take a survey about their experience.
    “We are hoping to make this an annual event,” Brubaker said. “I believe most of the people coming to this year’s event will be from Pontiac, but we would like to make this an event for anyone in Livingston County.”
    After a few months of searching for employment opportunities via the Internet, job-seeker Alec Kilgore said he was glad to hear about the job fair in the community.
    “It’s a lot easier to come out here and meet with potential employers than it is to search for potential job matches online,” Kilgore said. “I’ve found, you send out tons of resumes, but don’t get a lot of response back.”
    Kilgore said online job recruiting is the way most companies are finding employees these days. While this strategy may work well for the employer, Kilgore feels there’s no personal connection for the applicant.
    “You just feel like another piece of information in their e-mail,” Kilgore said. “Assuming these jobs get tons of applicants, it’s very hard to make yourself stick out.”
    Kilgore came to the event with the hope of finding a few employment opportunities that seem interesting and applying with the hope of gaining an interview.
    “So far, I’ve already had one interview, so I’m feeling pretty good about being out here,” Kilgore said. “I think handing a resume to an actual person provides a little bit of an edge. It’s all in that first impression, they know your face and when you call back, hopefully, they will remember who you are.”
    Melissa DuVall, a recruiter for Manpower in Pontiac, met with a wide variety of job seekers during the job fair.
    “They have a wide variety of backgrounds and interests,” DuVall said. “Some are looking for their first jobs and then you also have retirees who are looking for part-time work.”
    Even in the age of the Internet, DuVall said face-to-face recruiting events are important. She cited a story she read recently about how Chicago employers are starting to use staffing software to fulfill their employment needs.
    “What they are finding, is that this software is more difficult to use than anticipated,” she said. “I think that proves that face-to-face recruiting helps to match someone to a position or helps the job seeker find a good fit within the company.”
    DuVall doesn’t come to job fairs with hiring expectations. She said although they are willing to hire the right person for an open position, most people are asked to submit their resume with the understanding that they may get a callback once a good fit is found.
    “Thus far, we’ve collected some resumes for people who we think might be good candidates for positions we currently have open and a few for positions we’ll have opening in the future,” she said. “It’s encouraging to see people in the community actively trying to find a job.
    “One of the things I love most about my career is getting to make our associates happy by helping them find a position that’s a good fit. Of course, we also want to keep our business clients happy by connecting them with the best employees possible.”