By Jacob Owca, Madison Media Partners contributor
One of my colleagues described the modern-day job market as “volatile.” As a young man with three jobs, I couldn’t agree more. No company I’ve worked for in the past two years spent even a minute fully staffed. Yet, at the same time, hardly any of the companies I applied to spoke to me face-to-face before determining whether or not they wanted to hire me. It’s no surprise that many in the workforce see few paths to finding good employees, good careers, or even a 15-minute appointment with a candidate or hiring manager.
I turned to my business-focused colleagues to find out where workers can find opportunities like that again, and they pointed me to the South Central Wisconsin Job Fair, a bi-annual event hosted by Madison Media Partners. To learn more about the fair, which takes place Tuesday, Sept. 20 at the Alliant Energy Center, I spoke with two of my co-workers central to the event: recruitment specialist Tracy Buccelli and sales development manager Tess Thruman.
Tracy described the job fair as “an opportunity for jobseekers to put themselves in front of over 80 different employers.” Although it may sound standard for a jobseeker to put themselves in front of an employer, Tess corroborated Tracy’s claim that MMP’s job fair is a unique opportunity, especially in our post-COVID, tech-driven society.
“You often cannot walk into a building anymore and expect to speak with HR face-to-face,” Tess explained. “You only get that if you get an interview, and even then, a lot of times that interview takes place over Zoom.”
Both Tess and Tracy agreed that it’s meaningful for jobseekers to get the face-to-face interaction that the job fair creates. Tracy explained that jobseekers can impress their prospective employers by giving them that first impression. Tess further elaborated that jobseekers can better sell themselves with nonverbal communication like their clothes, their posture, and their cadence, in ways that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to on a digital application or in a Zoom window.
The benefits don’t only exist for the jobseekers, either. Tess and Tracy see the job fair as a tremendous opportunity for companies as well. Tess said it’s important for companies to be proactive about making themselves seen, rather than waiting for applicants to present themselves. There are 11 million open jobs and only six million unemployed people in the United States — thus, in today’s job market, employers compete for candidates, rather than the other way around.
Tracy added that since Madison Media Partners hosts the job fair, employers know they are collaborating with a company whose news brands, such as Madison.com and the Cap Times, reach even more passionate candidates. Furthermore, Madison Media Partners’ print and digital channels can reach passive job seekers, such as the many people who seek new employment after 90 days if they find that their company isn’t a good fit.
I asked Tess and Tracy how they’d pitch this specific event to both employers and candidates. They told me that this job fair is unique because its benefits go beyond those that are part and parcel to other job fairs. For example, MMP offers opportunities to underserved individuals by partnering with groups like the Urban League of Greater Madison and the Latino Chamber of Commerce, who can help provide services like translators for the talented, diverse candidates that companies may not otherwise discover.
Moreover, MMP caters to working people by hosting their event — which is free to attend — at a parking fee-free venue on a bus line and at a time that falls on the end of first shifts and before the start of second shifts. If for any reason a candidate can’t make the event, they can still pre-register so their resume can make it to employers. Tracy emphasized that MMP wants to reach as many candidates as possible, and that they realize that means accommodating those candidates.
Finally, I asked Tracy and Tess to tell me about their favorite part of past job fairs. “This is probably the only one or two times a year that I get to see [candidates and employers],” Tess said. Tracy recalled all the times she’s heard candidates exclaim, “I got an interview tomorrow!” and heard participating employers tell her that they hired great candidates. Those interpersonal experiences and conversations-turned-careers are what solidify the South Central Wisconsin Job Fair as a must-attend event.
The Fall 2022 South Central Wisconsin Job Fair takes place on Tuesday, Sept. 20, from 2-6 p.m. at the Alliant Energy Center. Employers can reserve a booth at the fair at go.madison.com/2022career, and jobseekers can pre-register to attend at go.madison.com/careerfair. RSVP to the Facebook Event for more updates.