April 6, 2006 in Business

Career fair offers point of entry

By The Spokesman-Review
Holly Pickett photo

From left to right, Sarah Brooks, Christine Obleness and Sgt. David Window talk to potential applicants Wednesday at the job fair’s Washington state Department of Corrections booth.
(Full-size photo)

Coming up

Idaho event

What: North Idaho Job Fair.

When: Noon to 7 p.m. April 19.

Where: Kootenai County Fairgrounds, 4056 N. Government Way, Coeur d’Alene.

Who’s involved: Eighty-four companies representing over a dozen industries, including health care, manufacturing, law enforcement, customer service and education.

Cost: Admission and parking are free.

For more information: Call Toni Sayler at (208) 664-3194, Ext. 190.

John Fox interviewed 380 job candidates last year to hire for three positions.

Sometimes it’s hard to find people who have the qualities he’s looking for, he said, and who are willing to work evenings and weekends. Fox, the agency manager for Country Insurance & Financial Services, rented a booth at the Inland Northwest Career Fair in hopes of meeting future hires.

The fair, held Wednesday at the Spokane Ag Trade Center, was free to job seekers.

Fox shook hands and looked for traits such as good eye contact, optimism and confidence. Those qualities, he said, help financial planners establish relationships and broach tough topics, such as preparing for old age.

More than 50 businesses from industries including health care, education, military, restaurant, beauty, banking and high-tech were represented at the fair. Companies paid from $550 to $3,000 for booths and packages that can include advertising and sponsorships.

The event was presented by The Spokesman-Review and sponsored by Provisional Staffing Services, Community Colleges of Spokane, Washington State Employees Credit Union and Securities America.

“We have a lot of people who come year after year because they feel they have a lot of success with finding good, qualified applicants,” said Diane Bobiak, a classified advertising manager for the newspaper who has helped organize the annual event since it began 11 years ago.

This year, Bobiak expected 1,500 to 2,000 people to attend the fair and was pleased to see a variety of jobs, including a resurgence of high-tech companies with engineering positions.

Michael Douglas, 28, was one of several representatives at the Washington state Department of Corrections booth, which attracted a steady stream of visitors.

“It was quite surprising. I thought we would scare people away actually,” joked a uniformed Douglas.

Some corrections jobs don’t require post-high school education, he said, and the state reimburses employees for a large portion of college tuition and training costs. After being hired as a corrections and custody officer two years ago, Douglas took courses to become a control tactics instructor.

While some attendees had hair as gray as their jackets, many were young adults. Brittney Ferguson, an 18-year-old studying for her general educational development test, was looking for a job in the cosmetics industry. Her friend, 18-year-old Ginielle Stewart, is graduating from Lewis and Clark High School and plans to study collision repair at Community Colleges of Spokane.

“I’m looking for a mechanics job, but I’m gong to take whatever is given in the meantime,” Stewart said.

At 6-foot-5-inches tall, the meticulously dressed Kurt Sigler stood out among the crowd. The 25-year-old played football at Eastern Washington University, where he attended classes, before playing briefly for the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills and playing arena football in another city. But since getting his master’s degree in business administration last fall, Sigler is focusing on landing a job that utilizes his computer and management skills.

“I’m putting the football career to a rest and moving on to a professional career,” he said. “I would like to get into sales management, and there are a couple firms here that do a lot of sales.”

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