Preparing the young workforce with the Mayor’s Youth Job Fair

  • By:   Doug Betts, Business/Education Committee Chairman and Owner Computer Age Consulting

Tell me about yourself. What are your best traits?  Where do you see yourself in five years?  What ambitions do you have for your career?

Most of us will recognize these as standard questions for a job interview. Our committee is now preparing for the annual Mayor’s Youth Job Fair which we will host in April 2012.  Prior to the job fair, there will be a soft-skills workshop to help applicants prepare to answer questions such as those above.  This workshop is also meant to help job seekers realize that the need to answer questions in a perfunctory manner is superseded by the importance of sharing with a potential employer why they would be the ideal candidate for the job.

To illustrate my point further, let’s look at two job-candidates who were asked a few generic questions during an interview:

Tell me about yourself.

Candidate A: I am in high school.  I have 2 brothers and a sister.  I like football and sports in general.  My grades are decent but could be better.

Candidate B:   I am hard working and dependable, I’m rarely sick.  I pay attention to my surroundings and notice when something needs to be done, priding myself on taking the initiative to do it.  I’m able to follow directions whether they are general or specific.  My goal is to provide good value to you as an employee.

What are your best traits? 

Candidate A: Umm… I don’t know, I guess I get along well with people.  My best subject in school is geography.  I like math.  I like to help people.

Candidate B:   I only need to be told once how to do a particular task.  I have a track record of keeping the quality of my work high and can provide references to substantiate that.  I can work well with a variety of different personality types.

Where do you see yourself in five years?  What ambitions do you have for your career? 

Candidate A: Well, I hope to have a good job.  Maybe have my own place.  I want to have new car.

Candidate B:   In five years I want to be able to look back and see a track record of advancing responsibilities and accomplishments.  I want to have good references from the part time jobs that I have had while continuing my education.  I want to have more connections in the community and be able to use the network I create throughout my various jobs to move forward on my career path.

Using my amazing psychic powers I am going to predict that you would choose candidate B, duh!  Someone like this who is clear regarding their goals and willing to stress their positive traits related to the job is an ideal candidate.  However, I’m going to guess that, like me, the majority of candidates you’ve interviewed are more reminiscent of candidate A – let’s all let out a collective groan of frustration.

That is a big part of why I participate in the Business Education Committee, because we are able to focus on problems like the one described above and provide solutions like interview preparedness seminars prior to the Annual Mayor’s Youth Job Fair.  The participation of employers in events like this will help us all in ensuring that we educate our youth to minimize the number of those who walk through our doors that would fall into the “candidate A” column.

With that said, I’d like to say that if you will be in a position to hire young people when April, 2012 rolls around, please consider making plans to attend the event as one of our employer vendors at the Job Fair in Manchester Center.  The precise date is still being bandied about, so if you are interested, please send me an e-mail to me regarding the request and I’ll keep you up to date.

In order to put on this event, the committee has put in significant time and effort, and we are now requesting volunteers to help us finish producing this valuable event. Some of the major needs include food donations or funds for that purpose, advertising resources to get the word out, additional employers to check out these great young people and general event sponsorship.  Many people and organizations help us each year by providing from their own resources – and the more that give, the better!

We take great pride in the fact that we are able to put on the Mayor’s Youth Job Fair with an official budget of zero dollars.  Please remember that whether you are looking to hire our city’s youth now, or want the option of selecting a qualifiedFresnonative in the future, your participation in this event will benefit everyone!  This is our community helping our community, and we need all the help we can get.

During this time where every dollar counts and time is even more valuable, our monthly meetings have been largely focused on the importance of developing a higher quality workforce pool. If you share our passion for this issue, I’d encourage you to be part of our efforts by joining us at a future meeting to check out the committee. We meet at 7:30 a.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at the Fresno Chamber of Commerce.  I welcome you to just show up!

Doug Betts – Business/Education Committee Chairman, doug@dougbetts.com or 559-289-8000 (cell)

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