By Don Bolding
Killeen Daily Herald
Hundreds of people seeking jobs and others just exploring the market visited with employers, filled out applications and collected brochures at the annual Central Texas Community Job Fair hosted by the Central Texas College Career Center on Wednesday.
Bruce Vasbinder of CTC's Community Relations and Marketing Department said 750 people registered for the event at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center to talk with recruiters from more than 50 companies and government agencies. Booths were sponsored by big employers including Lockheed Martin, Kelly Services and Metroplex Health Systems and agencies that need many people right now, including the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection. Several police departments locally and statewide were represented.
Attendees included many soldiers in uniform on the brink of leaving the service.
"I'm going on terminal leave in a few months after 20 years, and it's been that long since I've applied or interviewed," said one soldier, who did not want to be identified. "I'm just seeing what's out there, and I'm casual about it now, but it would be a lot different if I were down to the wire."
But another man who said his company was downsizing took the same sort of window-shopping approach. "There's a lot here," he said. "I'm just trying to determine where my skills might fit so I have a better idea of where to look." He also wanted to remain anonymous.
Lucille Ward, a counselor with the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services who has staffed a recruiting table at the fair during most of its 20 years, said she is impressed with the growing qualifications of applicants.
"When we started, most of the people who came in were looking for low-level service jobs. Now they have high levels of education, and many of those are military," she said. "They have advanced degrees and specialized qualifications of all kinds. We find many more people we can consider."
David McClure, associate dean for guidance and counseling at CTC, said the annual fair is a consolidation of similar fairs held by the various sponsors at different places at different times of the year.
"In prior years, many of the employers were looking for graduates when a semester or term of service ended. The way it's grown, most of them are looking for employees immediately or in a short time, so it made sense to hold it in the spring," he said, adding, "We adhere to high standards of ethics, and our entry fees are a small fraction of what some companies sponsoring these fairs charge."
CTC Career Center Director Elaine Riley said, "The best approach to finding a job is to use all the options available to market yourself and your skills. This job fair is a great option for that as well as for networking and learning additional job search skills and techniques."
McClure said, "The best testimonial to the effectiveness of job fairs is the number of employers who come back, year after year. A great number of the ones today are old friends by now."
Co-sponsors with the CTC Career Center were Tarleton State University-Central Texas, the Army Career and Alumni Program of III Corps on Fort Hood, the Central Texas Workforce Centers and the Army Community Service-Employment Readiness Branch.
Contact Don Bolding at firstname.lastname@example.org