Job seekers by the hundreds descended on Saint Martin’s University midday Tuesday, hoping to connect with an employer for a job or internship in an economy that continues to show slow improvement.
Tuesday’s career fair at Marcus Pavilion was co-sponsored by Saint Martin’s and The Evergreen State College, with staff from both schools assisting a final tally of 420 job seekers, including offering tips for better résumés.
It also had a digital touch this year, said Ann Adams, associate dean of students and director of career development for Saint Martin’s.
A professional photographer was hired to take portraits for those wanting to upload a professional-looking photo to their LinkedIn page, a business-oriented social network website that is growing in popularity.
Meanwhile, more than 100 employers filled the pavilion, including representatives from Northwestern Mutual, Olympia Federal Savings and Platt Electric Supply.
Job seekers ranged in age from the student trying to pin down an internship or line up a job before graduation to the older worker in need of work now.
Dennis Stokesberry, 56, of Lacey, who has worked in sales for 30 years, said he has been unemployed since February.
After a long career in sales, he got his commercial driver’s license and became a long-haul trucker. Although there is plenty of demand for truck drivers, he didn’t enjoy spending six to eight weeks at a time away from home, so he is back looking for work again in sales or promotions.
He’s found that some sales jobs don’t pay well enough or he’s told that he’s overqualified due to his experience. “My age is working against me a little bit,” he said.
Karissa Radke, 20, a second-year student at Saint Martin’s, attended the job fair in hopes of finding a social-work-related internship, a requirement for her degree in social work.
As for her job prospects, she believes there will always be a need for social workers, and she plans to get her master’s degree in social work, too.
“I’m not too worried,” she said.
Job seeker Michael Gibson, 48, of Puyallup, who lost his job in January, said he has many reasons to worry, but he remains upbeat, trying to stay positive and take one day at a time.
“It’s a matter of perspective,” he said, adding that friends and family have provided a safety net.
So what’s happened?
Gibson lost his job as a driver, and his wife lost her job as a cook, he said. They also take care of their adult disabled daughter at home and his wife, whose breast cancer is in remission, is set to visit the doctor again after some recent pain in her breast.
And yet Gibson, with a smile on his face, remains focused on getting a job.
“I’m open to about anything,” he said.
Keily Warren, 22, of Olympia is set to graduate from Saint Martin’s in the fall with a degree in business and accounting, and she attended the job fair in hopes of lining up a new job.
One challenge: Everyone wants work experience and she doesn’t have any.
Ideally, she’d like to follow in her mother’s footsteps and work for the state as an accountant because of the benefits a state job would offer.
Her mother, Patty Warren, now retired, joined her daughter at the career fair to offer support.
Warren recalled that it was much easier for her to get a job with the state and that there wasn’t as much competition.
“State hiring has changed, but not necessarily for the better,” she said. “It’s a lot tougher.”
• Target your résumé for the job and use keywords to match the position.
• Describe your qualifications and avoid long lists of adjectives.
• Don’t worry about exceeding one page.
• Include your email and a link to your LinkedIn profile.
• Avoid big blocks of text.
• If you have volunteer experience, include it.
• Fatal mistakes: misspelled words and an embarrassing, cutesy email address.
• Content is key for a résumé, but also make good use of the white space and design.
• A résumé should be a summary of your skills. It is not meant to read like a job application.
Source: Ann Adams, associate dean of students and director of career development at Saint Martin’s University