Reverse Career Fair offers unique way of connecting job seekers and employers

Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 10:16 PM CST
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WATERLOO, Iowa (KCRG) - IowaWORKS Waterloo hosted a Reverse Career Fair Tuesday at the Antioch Baptist Church in Waterloo, hoping to help bridge the gap between employers and people looking for work.

A reverse career fair is similar to a normal career fair, except the job seeker is the one sitting at the table as employers come around the room to them. IowaWORKS Waterloo says one of the big issues they hear from employers who are hiring is candidates not showing up to interviews.

Many of the people who attended the event, like Amber Mclaughlin from Cedar Falls, come from non-profit One City United’s Momentum program. “They’ve been coaching us and interviewing, everything like that, and how to interview,” says Mclaughlin.

It’s designed to help people overcome common barriers to finding work. “Childcare, transportation, housing, criminal background, past drug addictions, ageism. People can come in that are unemployed or are underemployed,” says Michele Feltes, director of Momentum.

IowaWORKS Waterloo partnered with Antioch Baptist Church to host the fair. Around a dozen job seekers got the chance to pitch their skills to 25 different employers. Organizers say the goal was to provide candidates with the tools necessary for success going into the fair, by providing printed resumes, practicing pitches and more.

Dr. Vapordeal Sanders works part time as adjunct faculty at Upper Iowa University and Kirkwood. She attended the fair after hearing about it from a friend, and says getting back to work full-time right now isn’t easy. “When I go over to the workforce center most of the time they don’t have jobs for my level, which is the doctorate level,” says Dr. Sanders, “Especially when America is coming off of the COVID experience, so it has thrown a lot of people like myself off the track, when I add that to what I was already dealing with, thinking I would easily make the transition into full time work, that did not happen. In fact I went 9 months with no work period.”

Organizers are hopeful this reverse approach can give both companies hiring and people looking for jobs a new approach to connecting.

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