Some 300 job seekers connected with 40 prospective employers June 24 at a JUF Job Fair organized to assist beginning to mid-level professionals. A project of the J-HELP: A Boost in Tough Times initiative, the fair, held at Federation headquarters, was presented by JUF’s Young Leadership Division and Trades, Industries & Professions Division, in conjunction with Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) and Hillels of Illinois.
In addition to face-to-face contact with hiring firms, the job seekers participated in several career workshops – including "Building a Network for Your Job Search," "Sharpening Your Interviewing Skills,” and “Managing a Transition to an Alternate Career” – and received career counseling and resumé help at a Job Search Strategy Resource Table.
Steve Miller, an architect by trade, said he decided to attend the fair after learning about it from his wife. “I knew there probably would not be an architecture firm present today,” he said. “I thought this would still be a good opportunity to network, to get some advice about making a possible career change, and to attend some of the information sessions offered.”
Nick Murphy, a training specialist with JVS, said this was “a very good fair,” one of the best he’d seen recently. “What’s so interesting about this fair,” said Murphy, “is how multi-generational it is. This is targeted for the entry-level to mid-level professional, but because of the economy a lot of people are here. And they’re all very well qualified.”
Jeff Ellman, co-founder and managing broker of Homescout Realty, couldn’t believe the turnout. “Participating in the job fair today really makes you see just how this economy is affecting people,” he said. “It’s one thing to read about it in the newspaper, but seeing all of these people in need of jobs makes the situation much more real.” According to Ellman, Homescout Realty has been thriving during this recession. “We’re privileged to be able to hire people right now. We have seven open positions, and we definitely met some people today who would be good candidates for a job with us.”
Another employer, Gayle Michel, from Senior Lifestyle Corporation, also was sure she’d found her next employee at the fair. “I found two gals who’d be perfect for a job with Senior Lifestyle Corporation,” she said. “I’ll be following up with them tomorrow.”
JUF’s J-HELP initiative, launched late last year, is Federation’s effort to address the growing and immediate needs created by the economic downturn.
“The Job Fair was a natural and much needed part of that effort,” said YLD outgoing President Lee Lazar. “There is no higher mitzvah than helping someone find a job so they can be self-supporting and a contributing member of the community.”
The full list of participating employers included Advantage Freight Network, Aflac, Aramark Health Care, Arbonne Representative, Armada Resources, Associated Agencies, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Brown and Element Real Estate, Duman Microenterprise Loan Fund, GCG Financial, Giving Tree Associates, Government of Israel Economic Mission to the Midwest, Homescout Realty, Instant Technology, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, Jewish Vocational Services, JMB Insurance, Kelly Financial Resources, Lower Electric, Luxury Living Chicago, Lynn Hazan & Assoc., Mannatech, MASA Israel Journey, McTigue Financial Group of Northwestern Mutual, Mesirow Financial, Mosaic, Inc., News America Marketing, Northern Trust, Office Connection, Pace Suburban Bus Service, Premier Design Jewelry, Senior Helpers, Senor Lifestyle Corporation, SmartHire Inc, Team Cymru, Torrey and Gray, TTC Marketing Solutions, Inc., UGL Equis, Vector, and www.new-hire.com.