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Job Fest
Annual event unites job seekers, employers
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Kelly Collins with KansasWorks talks about services available to job seekers during the Job Fest, Thursday at the Great Bend Events Center.

It only takes a couple of minutes for a prospective employer to know if someone might be a good fit for her organization. But if that employer is looking at a resume, the job seeker only has about 10 seconds to stand out, according to wisdom shared Thursday at the 12th annual Great Bend Job Fest.

Dozens of people stopped by the Great Bend Events Center to meet employers, fill out job applications or work on their resumes. Judy Jacobs, co-chairwoman of the Job Fest committee, said they hoped to see as many as 250 people during the three-hour show.

“We have 26 employers,” said Jacobs, who is also Barton Community College’s director of Testing, Advisement and Career Services. Some businesses represented for the first time were Cathage System, looking for swine production technicians; Central National Bank, seeking a part-time personal banker; Vend-Tech Enterprise, which hires armed and unarmed security officers; and Skillett & Sons Inc., with openings for CDL Class A truck drivers and other drivers.

Barton’s Community Service Organization offered a Career Clothes Closet where people looking for work can come to find donated clothing and accessories that would be suitable for a job interview. One thing that was new this year was that the closet was also open the day before Job Fest, she said.

The Clothes Closet was in a separate area and included two changing rooms along with racks of dresses, suits, shoes, ties and jewelry. There was even an iron handy for anyone who needed a quick touch-up.

Not everyone who stopped by one of the tables was looking for immediate employment. Barton accounting students Gage McBride and Keaton Sander said attending Job Fest was a class assignment so they could get experience handing interviews.

KansasWorks had a table inside and its Mobile Workforce Center, a 38-foot vehicle equipped with computers and a copier, was parked in front of the Events Center. At the KansasWorks table, Kelly Collins was critiquing a woman’s resume.

Resume advice

“The research shows you’ve got six to 10 seconds,” Collins said, describing what happens when an employer glances at a resume. “If they don’t see where you fit, they’re moving on.”

Her advice was to not waste time with general words of self-promotion such as “motivated,” but to highlight skills related to a job. Don’t go back more than 10-15 years, however, and don’t include education beyond a bachelor’s degree unless it’s relevant to the job. If you include more than one page — such as a page listing references — be sure to include a header with your name across the top in case the pages become separated, she said.

KansasWorks has a Great Bend office at 1025 Main and is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. It also offers a Career Success Workshop from 12:30-4 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. As more people stopped by the table, Collins told a man that KansasWorks can provide information about “how to get the job and how to keep the job — anything you need to help you get successfully employed. All of our services are paid for with taxpayers’ dollars,” she added. “So you don’t have any reason not to come see us.”

Another woman asked if KansasWorks offers computer classes. Collins said it does not, but it does have computers people can use to work on a resume or to do online job applications. “Along the way, you’re getting some computer skills,” she pointed out.

At the Skillet & Sons table, job recruiter Gina Price said the 51-year-old business based in La Crosse is hiring over the road truck drivers. It was Price who said she usually knows after a couple of minutes whether someone would make a suitable employee. After the requisite Class A Commercial Driver’s License, the first thing she looks for is “common sense,” Price said. “They’ve got to be able to do some trouble shooting.”

This was the company’s first year at Job Fest and Price was also at the first-ever Barton Education and Employment Expo, held last month at the college. She said one reason her company has started attending job festivals in the area is that it is hard to find employees. It also helps to have photos so people can see the types of items the company transports.

The annual, regional job fair is targeted for businesses and employees in Central Kansas, and is a collaboration of many organizations. Those who attended could also sign up for a drawing for prizes.