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Congresswoman Edwards hosts fair with diverse job offerings


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Photo by Tauren Dyson. Meghan Stevenson speaks with a career fair attendee.

Photo by Tauren Dyson. Meghan Stevenson speaks with a career fair attendee.

Published on: Wednesday, September 04, 2013

By Tauren Dyson

Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., held her second annual job fair at the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex last Thursday.

The event featured more than 90 employers from around the region. Many recruiters on hand were strongly encouraged by the crop of job seekers and others were cautiously optimistic about the potential of the applicants.

It was important for the congresswoman to bring in a variety of employers, Edwards’ press secretary Ben Gerdes said.

“The impetus is to bring employers together who are actively hiring and to make it as diverse as possible,” he said. “What we want to do is reflect the employers in the region and connect them with a very capable workforce.”

Florence Champagne, a constituent services representative for the congresswoman, said she remembers finding success at a similar job fair more than a year ago.

“I met some people who were kind of disappointed about the job fair, and I encouraged them because I got my job through a job fair here, “ Champagne said. “You never know who you’re going to meet and how it’s going to pan out.”

Champagne said she met someone in 2011 from the Prince George’s One-Stop Career Center. The career center representative then connected her with a representative from Edwards’ office last August. Now, she has been in her job with the congresswoman a little more than a year.

In 2011, Champagne came prepared, appropriately dressed and well spoken. Still today, some job seekers at the fair didn’t have the same level of preparation.

“Many people do come to job fairs unprepared, unimpressively dressed, and not really knowing how to give their elevator speeches to be able to sell themselves to an employer,” said Kim Rhim, president of The Train Source, a program that teaches jobseekers for professional and interpersonal skills. “The flyer that announced this job fair said, ‘Dress to impress,’ and many people are, but many people missed the memo.”

But unlike other recruiters who might throw away resumes from improperly dressed candidates, Rhim holds on to them. The Train Source enlists applicants who might not have the proper public speaking skills necessary to work the hospitality industry. Rhim coaches these individuals on what to say, when to say it, and how to dress when they do.

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