Mini job fairs popular in tight labor market

As northern Nevada employers find themselves caught in the tight spot they need more labor at a time that jobless rates are exceptionally low more are turning to mini job fairs as a hiring tactic.

In the first half of June, the Nevada JobConnect center in Reno hosted a half dozen companies conducting mini job fairs.

It's not unusual for the office to see 10 or 12 of the fairs monthly, says center manager Tina Grefrath, and the number is growing steadily.

As their name indicates, mini job fairs are significantly smaller than traditional job fairs, at which numerous employers talk with job candidates for a wide range of positions.

A mini job fair,Grefrath says, involves only one employer who is looking to fill jobs in a handful of positions.

Because the JobConnect office at Reno Town Mall is visited by by more than 1,300 jobseekers a month, job fairs at its office provide important exposure for employers.

Take Harrah's for example.

"We were able to recruit people who had never thought about working for Harrah's," says Don'Angelo Bivens, a human resources associate.

"It is important for Harrah's to reach out to the community instead of relying on people to walk through the door."

That's all the more important, Bivens says, in a tight labor market.

The unemployment rate in Washoe County in May dipped to 3.3 percent.

At a recent mini job fair, Harrah's hosted more than 50 applicants during an allday event at the JobConnect center that resulted in several hires.

Other companies which rely on mini jobs fairs as a recruiting tool include Intuit and Kragan, the auto parts retailer which conducts a monthly session for its northern Nevada stores.

A major remodeling of the JobConnect location in south Reno completed last year provides useful facilities for employers to conduct a job fair.

Along with private offices where employers can interview candidates, the JobConnect facility includes conference rooms large enough to conduct introductory sessions.

More important to many companies, Grefrath says, is the staff that the JobConnect Center will dedicate to helping an employer.

The center's staff will help screen applicants, make sure that good candidates know about the mini job fairs and provide administrative support to employers.

"Our receptionist becomes their receptionist," Grefrath says.

"We want local companies to view us as an extension of their HR department and consider our office theirs."

She says employers have found, too, that the Reno JobConnect center at Peckham and South Virginia streets often is more convenient than their company locations for job seekers.

The JobConnect center is on one of the region's main bus routes.

The mini job fairs have proving particularly popular with companies opening new operations in northern Nevada.

They need to hire quickly, Grefrath says, but don't yet have their own offices where they can interview candidates.


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