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East County Wednesday, Apr. 3, 2019 4 months ago

Higher goals at job fair in Lakewood Ranch

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Florida Joblink career fair comes to Hyatt Place Sarasota/Lakewood Ranch.
by: Andrew Atkins Staff Writer

In an age full of LinkedIn requests and Indeed job applications, some companies — and job seekers — believe there’s no way to substitute genuine human interaction between employers and job candidates.

That’s why John Jessup, a University Park resident, found himself at the Florida Joblink career fair at the Hyatt Place Sarasota/Lakewood Ranch on March 26.

John Jessup, of University Park, said he was looking to enter the finance or insurance sectors.

Jessup, who recently was let go from Tesla in his role as a showroom sales specialist, elaborated on the technological divide.

“You are a digital file among hundreds, even thousands,” he said. “If I can talk to someone, I can seal the deal.”

The career fair featured 14 businesses and accepted applications for five others through organizer Stephanie Sims.

Her organization often holds job fairs to meet specific needs, she said. For example, she said she’s held veteran-specific job fairs. Sims said it was important to bring a fair like this to the area to give people easy access to opportunities.

And turn out they did. She estimated between 400 and 500 people attended the job fair in Lakewood Ranch of the 600 who preregistered.

“We want the candidates to know we care,” Sims said. “I hope they take away confidence, but mostly I hope they get a job.”

Job candidates came from all over the area. Carrie Sokalski, for example, came up to the event from Venice.

She found herself interested in some of the insurance company positions advertised at the fair. As a former owner of a mortgage company, she said it seemed in her wheelhouse as well as her interests to help people.

Sokalski said attending the job fair gave her both hope and direction for her future career.

Local businesses find values in job fairs, too. Pat Donnelly, who is a branch office administrator with Bankers Life, said she often sets up multiple interviews for positions at each job fair.

“We’re looking for career-minded individuals,” she said.

That’s something that Annamaria Juhasz, a recruiting adviser with HH Staffing Services, looks for, too. However, she noted that at career fairs she attends with her company, which provides staff to other companies, she’ll get maybe five good resumes out of 50.

“We like direction,” she said, which helps candidates stand out.

It helps, too, when candidates do their research on the staffing agency and the kinds of jobs they offer.

Pat Donnelly and Paula Dies, who work for Bankers Life, sought suitable candidates for interviews at the career fair.

Sims suggested a few next steps for candidates who attend career fairs and pass out their resumes and talk with potential employers.

Chief among them, she said, was to email the potential employer and thank them for their time. It also helps to attach a digital copy of their resume and remind them what they’re looking to do.

Personally, Jessup said he felt confident walking away from the job fair. He seeks employment in the financial and insurance sectors, and said he left with a sense of hope.

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