Job seekers and providers alike were at the Riverfront Community Center for the Opportunities Leavenworth County job fair Tuesday.
The fair attracted 51 employers and 70 total exhibitors and was sponsored by a coalition of local and area groups including the Kansas Workforce Partnership of Leavenworth, Johnson and Wyandotte counties, the Leavenworth County Development Corporation, the Fort Leavenworth Army Career and Alumni Program and the Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce.
Beginning with an hour during which only veterans were allowed in, giving them time to meet with employers directly.
After that, the doors were open for job seekers of all ages to visit with companies from the information technology, retail, health care and manufacturing fields. It gives job seekers an opportunity to make face-to-face contact with different potential employers, according to Gavin Smith, who had traveled from Nebraska to attend the fair.
“There's certainly a lot of opportunities,” he said. “It's great to have it all in one place.”
Mirroring the nation as a whole, the unemployment rate in Leavenworth County continues to slowly decline, standing at 7.3 percent in March 2013, down from 8 percent a year before, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among those unemployed workers is Jessica Young of Leavenworth. She said she has been looking for a new job for the past three weeks, so far to no avail.
“I've gotten a lot of 'nos,'” she said, adding that it's easy to begin to feel frustrated with the process.
But looking for a job at home is one thing, Young said, looking at the fair is quite another. The difference, she said, seems to be the ability to ensure employers get to hear her out ― a sort of pre-interview.
“You kind of get some face time,” she said, which she said she thinks helps eliminate the uncertainty of applying for a job.
She said she felt the “broad spectrum” of different employers at the fair benefited her search, too. The same was true for Jeff Reed, who was looking for a job along with two co-workers, all of whom were being laid off this summer. He said he was able to shake a lot of hands and hand out a lot of resumes.
“And more,” he said, hopeful that some of the contacts he made could turn into interviews or job offers.