By Ryan Cornell
American Woodmark, Lowe's, Kelly Services, Via Satellite, Home Depot Distribution, Aerotek and Manpower are a few of the employers that will be looking to fill their open positions at a job fair in Winchester this month.
The fair will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 27, at the Hilton Garden Inn, 120 Wingate Drive, Winchester. It's sponsored by the First Step Interfaith Alliance, a group of Winchester churches composed of Grace Community Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church and the Winchester Church of God.
Board President Tina Blair said the purpose of the alliance, which recently voted to change its name to the Valley Faith Based Employment Network, is to help unemployed people in the Winchester community get hired.
"My husband was laid off in March 2009 when the economy tanked," she said. "I saw what he was going through and felt the need to help people going through the same situation."
Now in its fourth year, the fair has shifted from unemployed people trying to find jobs to employed people trying to find jobs that better match their skill level, she said.
She said the fair, funded 100 percent through donations, doesn't charge employers a fee to set up at the fair, but does require employers to have open jobs available to participants.
"It's the perfect opportunity for people to show up and meet with someone face-to-face, hand over their resumes and make a good first impression," she said.
She said the Department of Rehabilitative Services, Lord Fairfax Community College and Virginia Employment Commission with ResCare are also attending the fair.
Samantha Greenfield, workshop facilitator at ResCare, offered some tips for people preparing for the job fair.
She said people should research the employers attending the fair and customize their resumes to meet the job descriptions of each employer.
"People need to be confident in who they are, what their skills are and what makes them different from all the other people," she said.
She said it's important to dress professionally as if you're going to an interview. Men should wear khakis and a long-sleeve button-up dress shirt. Their facial hair should be well groomed. Women should wear either a pantsuit or dress pants and a blouse. They should keep jewelry to a minimum and dress conservatively. She added that tattoos and piercings should be kept hidden.
While people are waiting in line to speak to employers, she said they can take the opportunity to talk with others in line and practice networking.
She suggested those going to the fair should ask for business cards of the different employers in order to follow up afterward.
"They're collecting hundreds of applications and yours is just a piece of paper in the pile," she said. "By taking proactive steps and emailing them, you have a bigger opportunity to have your resume seen."
People should prepare an elevator pitch to sell themselves and bring multiple copies of their resumes, she said. They should also watch their body language.
"One thing you should not do is discuss salary or benefits with the employer," she said. "That's certainly not the place to discuss that type of information."
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org