Provided by Manassas City Councilman Ian Lovejoy
When local business and industry leaders shared the struggles they were having in filling current job openings, a small group of citizens, led by Manassas City Councilman Ian Lovejoy, embraced the challenge to identify workers capable of filling the void.
The Greater Manassas Community Job Fair was established as the means to help meet the goal. This week, over 50 regional employers, career counselors and education partners came together to meet and interview prospective employees from the City of Manassas and surrounding areas.
“I found myself in the odd position of having citizens in the area talking in one ear about wanting to find work and regional businesses talking into the other about needing employees. Something wasn’t connecting. After finding out there was no job far in the region planned, it became obvious what I had to do,” said Councilman Lovejoy. “Things came together rather quickly. Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church stepped up right away to offer space and many organizations helped market the event and volunteers were abundant.”
For Councilman Lovejoy this is the latest in a series of initiatives he’s dubbed Your Manassas-2015. Other projects include a Good Neighbor’s Program designed to raise awareness of blight and overcrowding issues as well as the development of a City of Manassas iPhone app aimed at better communicating events, dining and shopping options to citizens in the region. “Members of council are not given a budget for projects like members of the board of county supervisors, so I’ve considered my council salary that budget and am working to re-invest it in the community where it can do the most good,” commented Lovejoy. Manassas City Council members are paid approximately $13,000 annually.
Organizers and participants were particularly impressed with the fair’s success especially considering it was designed and implemented independently by just a few volunteers rather than a large civic organization or university.
With over 450 job seekers participating, several employers stated they were able to find quality applicants that day.
“The Manassas Job Fair was a huge success for KO Distilling. We received many quality resumes from potential candidates. More importantly, we were able to meet and talk with people so we could learn more about them and they could hear about our start-up distillery. Definitely a win-win for everyone and proof-positive that Manassas is a good place to do business” commented Bill Karlson, KO Distilling, Co-Founder/CEO.
Elder Ramos, recruiter for JK Moving Services, said, “we came away with a stack of completed applications, and even conducted some interviews on the spot. We were very pleased with the turnout and the whole process of the job fair.”
“I was glad to be able to talk to several applicants with IT experience,” Abhishek Chaudhry, owner of ITQuo Inc., said. “Having the opportunity to meet so many job seekers in such a short time was invaluable.”
Some employers, such as Harris Teeter and Keller Williams Realty, provided prizes that were given away, and several vendors, such as Michelle Davis-Younger’s The 1 for HR, were on hand to assist applicants with resumes and interview performance.
“I was very happy the fair worked well for both employers and those looking for work. There is a bittersweet aspect to it, however, realizing just how many in our area are in need of jobs – from entry level to experienced professionals. There’s no doubt we need more events like this and we’ve already begun planning our next one,” said Councilman Lovejoy.
Organizers for the event included Manassas City Councilman Ian Lovejoy, Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church, Home Instead Senior Care and both Strayer and Stratford Universities.