October 23, 2021

Job fair set for Wednesday at sports complex

More than 50 businesses and employers will meet with job candidates Wednesday at the Fresh Start Fall Job Fair at the JM McDonald Sports Complex in Cortlandville.

The event, 3 to 7 p.m., comes as extended unemployment benefits stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic ended Sept. 5, although Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx) has announced she will introduce a bill to extend them through February.

“Based on the results of the job fair held in June and the responses from employers and job seekers both, they indicated that they wanted to have another job fair in the fall after the extended Unemployment Insurance benefits expired,” said Amy Buggs, director of the Cayuga-Cortland Workforce Development Board.

“We are hoping that more job seekers come to this job fair.” Buggs said the job fair is also an opportunity for job seekers who may be underemployed and looking for something better.

“Employers want job seekers to know that they have made their workspaces COVID safe, they are looking for people who are ready and willing to come to work every day,” Buggs said. “They want to talk to prospective job seekers who are motivated and desire to do a good job on the job.”

Going to the job fair?
The Cortland Works Career Center offers job fair tips at its Facebook page, the video titled “#WorkforceWednesday: Job Fair Prep.”

Since coronavirus restrictions were lifted earlier this summer and the economy begins to return to normal, employers are desperate to find employees, said Garry VanGorder, president of the Cortland County Business Development Corp. and Industrial Development Agency.

“I can’t think of any employment sector that has been spared the impact of the pandemic,” VanGorder said, “and it is no fallacy that our rebound from it is being hampered by people staying out of the work force.”

Federal COVID-19 unemployment benefits programs expired on Sept. 5, but experts predict it could take longer for people to feel comfortable returning to work, VanGorder said. Job seekers can ask potential employers about the workplace’s safety protocols and plans.

“There are many, many businesses in the area looking for help and for people that are interested in upgrading their employment status,” said Bob Haight, president of the Cortland Area Chamber of Commerce.

Employers are seeking more than entry-level workers; middle-management and other positions are available, Haight said.

“Employers have told me that they can tell early on in a person’s employment if they’ll advance quickly,” Haight said. “One employer told me that within a week they could point out which people at entry-level jobs were going to move up within their organization.”

Don’t be afraid to start at an entry-level job, Haight said. “If you’re the person that has a good eye, you show up on time, you work hard and you’re a problem solver, then you’re going to go places with these companies.”

Even if you don’t have every skill an employer is looking for, you could be qualified for on-the-job training benefits, said Buggs, who encourages employers to contact the Cortland Works Career Center about on-the-job training money.

The job fair could be the first step for many job seekers, Van-Gorder said, “There has been no better opportunity in my lifetime for job-seekers to find good positions.”

People should dress to impress, as on-site interviews are being offered with many employers, Buggs said.

Bring a resume, and come prepared with a 30-second elevator pitch to employers.

“This is the perfect opportunity for you to even try for a job that two years ago you might not have gotten an interview for, and you can explain to that employer that you’re ready, you’re dependable and you’re going to work hard and prove yourself to them,” Haight said.