A few months ago I attended a jobs fair. The event was held by the job network provider Wise Employment. Different employers and organisations were there to speak directly to job seekers with disabilities. Organisations who attended included those in retail, business, government and training. The event was aimed at Disability Employment Services (DES) and Job Services Australia (JSA) clients. Over 200 job seekers attended from around Melbourne.
Meeting new people
On arriving at the venue, each job seeker met up with their job network representative who had brought copies of their client’s resume. Around the room, employees and training organisations had information stands erected. Job seekers were then directed to introduce themselves and present their resume to organisations they may be interested in. Job network representatives remained on hand for moral support.
The prospect of talking to these employers may sound daunting, however the employers are there to speak to you and I found them quite approachable. It helped if you could say a few things about what you had done in the past and what you were interested in, but the introduction was generally brief. It could be as simple as saying hello, smiling and presenting your resume. As more people arrived at the venue, the queues at the stands became longer and it was not practical to have much time with each employer. It was not like a full job interview where you needed to have detailed answers prepared.
Approximately 20 exhibitors were at the job fair including McDonalds, Bunnings, Baptcare, Victoria Police, Rotary, NAB, ANZ and Lord of the Fries. There were also registered training organisations (RTOs) such as Careers Australia and Australian Apprenticeship Centres.
It was interesting to find that organisations like the Victoria Police, McDonalds and Bunnings had roles available in areas like administration, whereas some people with a disability may feel that such organisations are inaccessible to them.
It was confidence building to be able to successfully manage talking directly to different employers and I suggest it would be a great first step if you are looking to prepare yourself for job interviews. It was also empowering to take a proactive approach instead of sitting behind a computer screen firing off job applications to people you may never hear from.
I felt the follow-up after the event was lacking as a couple of employers suggested they may call about potential opportunities but I have not heard back. As I did not take any names or contact details of those people I can't contact them myself. This is something I would do differently in the future. However, I have subsequently applied to a couple of these organisations as a result of knowing they have an inclusive policy.
The event achieved some success in finding employment for people with a disability. According to Wise Employment about half a dozen clients were placed directly as a result of the event and more gained interviews. Since the event, a number of others have secured employment at Lord of the Fries.
Despite these modest numbers, on the whole, the jobs fair was a valuable experience. I would recommend such events to others as a way to connect and learn more about inclusive organisations and to develop self-assurance in dealing with employers.