GREENFIELD — One prospective employee had been out of work for almost five months.
Another, armed with résumés, lost his job less than a week ago.
Everyone’s story was different.
No matter how they ended up there, those seeking employment found common ground Tuesday at Brandywine Community Church during a job fair hosted by Love In the Name of Christ, a local nonprofit organization.
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Steve Howard of Greenfield arrived at the event as soon as the doors opened to meet with potential employers. He collected a handful of applications, sat down at a table and promptly began filling them out.
Howard has been out of work for about five months. He said Tuesday’s job fair had him feeling hopeful.
“It could take me days to go through this many employers. This saves time for me,” he said. “I’m feeling a lot better about it than before I came in.”
Charley Smith of Greenfield lost his job just five days ago. He showed up Tuesday to see what employers could offer. Even if he didn’t walk away with a job, Smith said he figured the job fair was a good opportunity to practice networking and talking with representatives of different companies. Maybe at his next job interview, he’ll feel less nervous, he said.
It’s wonderful that Love INC cares enough about the community to host the job fair, Smith said.
About 25 local employers and temporary employment agencies set up tables at the event. They laid out job applications, and representatives chatted with prospective employees during the four-hour event.
Teri House, a staff member at Springhurst Health Campus, was on hand to identify potential candidates for several positions at the assisted living center, including certified nurse assistants and a business office manager.
She was pleased with turnout at the event; several promising candidates had stopped by her table, she said.
Veterans had the advantage of first pick, as the first hour of the job fair was reserved for them.
About a dozen veterans stopped by in that time, said John Spanogle, director of strategic initiatives and development for Operation: Job Ready Veterans. The Indianapolis-based organization helps veterans transition from the military into civilian life through classes and seminars.
Veterans often struggle with finding a job after they leave the military, Spanogle said. They need to be ready to self-promote, but many struggle with that, he said.
“A lot of us don’t realize how many skills we have,” he said.
Tuesday’s event was a good opportunity for veterans to find employment and practice promoting their skills, he said.
Organizers hoped offering the job fair in a central location might have helped those lacking transportation to get from business to business when job searching, said Karla Whisenand, director of Love INC’s Hearts of Hope ministry, which offers job skills classes to county residents. Transportation is a barrier to many unemployed residents seeking employment, she said.
Though the organization has participated in job fairs in the past, Tuesday was the first time Love INC organized one, said executive director Jim Peters.
Peters said he felt the community would benefit from a job fair, and he hopes to continue the event next year. The job fair was a natural progression from the job skills workshops Love INC already offers, Peters said. The classes help people craft effective résumés and learn how to conduct themselves during job interviews. It also teaches attendees about time management.
“Our transformational ministry area focuses on the root cause of why people find themselves dependent on others,” he said.
The event benefited both those seeking employment and smaller community employers who wouldn’t be able to host a job fair on their own, Peters said.
The turnout to the event was just right, Whisenand said — there plenty of people but not so many that job seekers couldn’t have one-on-one discussions with employers.
Jaye Smith of Greenfield has been unemployed for about eight months; she’s already been to career counseling, but has had no luck finding new employment. She hoped the job fair would give her a chance to get her name out to more potential employers, she said.
“I have been looking for a really long time,” she said. “This is a good opportunity to get my foot in the door.”
Love INC offers job skills courses free of charge to the community. The five-week course will teach information like where to look for jobs, how to write a resume, time management and mock interviews.
The next series will begin 6 p.m. Monday at Greenfield Christian Church, 23 N. East Street.