The rules have changed

WCC job fair sees good turnout; job-seekers see new hiring trend
by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—The Waubonsee Community College (WCC) Spring Job/Internship Fair hasn’t seen a dip in employer participation the last few years despite an economy that continues to be stuck in first gear. In fact, there were approximately 75 employers that registered for this year’s event, which was held from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 7 in the college’s Academic and Professional Center.

However, there’s no doubt that the rules of the job fair game have changed for companies seeking employees.

“A lot of companies are now starting to go through staffing agencies, so we had quite a few staffing agencies (during the event),” said Teri Cullen, WCC career services manager. “Employers are doing that because they don’t have to pay severance and other things a regular employee (would receive).”

Cullen said a current practice is for companies like Aerotek to hire employees and place them in positions at a large company such as AT&T or General Electric.

“It’s the trend, because then (companies) can avoid the costs associated with laying people off,” she said.

This lack of long-term commitment from employers may be discouraging, but it wasn’t enough to deter more than 800 people from attending the Job/Internship Fair last Thursday. And several big-name companies received a considerable amount of attention during the event, including Caterpillar Inc., Dreyer Medical Group, Diamond Envelope Corporation, Meijer and Kish Health System.

Cullen said the job fair had a very good overall representation of occupational areas.

“We didn’t have a hard time getting employers to sign up and participate this year,” she said. “We didn’t have a lot of banking or a lot of health care; we had just a little bit of everything.”

WCC has a requirement that any employers participating in the Spring Job/Internship Fair must have available positions. If the available position is part commission, then the college asks that an actual salary be associated with the position.

The steady stream of job seekers during the job fair actually led many employers to stay for the duration of the event-something that doesn’t always happen. Some employers were in the event room 15 minutes after the fair ended.

“We’re not happy when employers leave early, so we were very, very happy about most of them (staying through the whole event),” Cullen said. “We had a few employers who didn’t show, but that’s always to be expected.”

With employer turnout remaining steady, the question becomes, what can WCC do to lure more big-name companies to the job fair, and which of those companies are they targeting?

“We always like to have some big-name employers-the AT&Ts, the Amocos, Nicor-so we’ll continue to work on that, but right now we’re just happy to provide our community members and our job seekers with 75 employers that they can meet face-to-face with and possibly end up with a job,” Cullen said.”