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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


Put your best foot forward

By Lauren Breslin
Special to The Sun

Job hunters will have the opportunity to further their career today and tomorrow at The National Job Fair & Training Expo, where close to 120 top Canadian organizations will be looking to fill more than 3,500 employment and career opportunities in a variety of fields.

The National Job Fair & Training Expo has become an important event to enter the job and career marketplace. For employers, it's an opportunity to interview a large number of prospects in a short period of time. For job-hunters, it's a place to meet face-to-face with hiring companies and organizations dedicated to help them.

The National Job Fair & Training Expo comes with its own set of protocols; and understanding them means putting yourself on the fast track to a new career.

Among the employers at the upcoming show is Hickory Farms, a specialty food and gift retailer looking to hire 25-30 mall kiosk managers and as many as 100 sales associates. Saim Mumal, director of national sales and marketing at Hickory Farms, will be actively recruiting on-site. He says candidates with relevant prior experience are at an advantage.

"Having experience always helps," Mumal says, "but we're also looking for people who are self-motivated, very outgoing and who have excellent interpersonal skills, which are important for our business."

Employers like Mumal see The National Job Fair & Training Expo as an efficient way to build up their talent pool.

"We might be able to recruit people who thought we wouldn't hire them," he says. "And people who may have thought this job wasn't for them may change their minds at the show as well. It's always good to have more people coming through and applying, rather than just a handful."

Absolute Recruitment, an employment agency specializing in office administration, customer service, sales and marketing, will also be recruiting on-site at The National Job Fair & Training Expo.

Julie Pickering, manager of national operations at Absolute Recruitment, says having an up-to-date resume prepared and ready to go is essential -- and so, too, is dressing for success.

"Another really key thing is that it's so busy at this event -- so you really have to be patient," Pickering says. "It's a combination of patience and persistence, bearing in mind that you've got a very short time to make a good impression. So you've really got to use your time wisely."

Pickering advises candidates that it's always best to come prepared. "The people who are exhibiting -- those names and companies are available online," she says. "So there's research that people can be doing on the companies who are going to be there. They can't be ill-prepared if they want to make a good impression."

Then there are the mistakes people make, like when candidates are too picky about the jobs they're looking for. "When people are too specific -- like they'll only take one type of job five minutes from their house and that's it -- there's no flexibility there for us to be able to help them," Pickering says.

Other mistakes she's come across: "People who haven't thought about what it is they're willing to do, and what it is that's available for them. And people who don't dress appropriately and just aren't prepared to professionally conduct their job search on site. Remember, it's still a professional interaction."

Another company looking to add to its force is G&K Services, a veteran of The National Job Fair & Training Expo. G&K is a supplier of work uniforms and other career-related apparel, and has been participating in the show since its inception.

"What we try to do is just get a feel for what the candidates are interested in," says Jeff Simmons, G&K Services regional recruiting manager.

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