HAMLET — If you didn’t have a resume ready at Richmond Community College’s annual Career and Business Expo on Tuesday, you were in luck: the NC Works Career Center brought its mobile office along, allowing job-seekers to stop in and workshop their resumes for free.
“You need a resume instead of an application? Ba-da-boom you got it,” said Allison Melvin, manager of NC Works. “Resume building can be daunting but when you see how easy it is, for a job-seeker that’s huge.”
The event brought more than 400 people and representatives from 53 companies to the Cole Auditorium. Vendors included major industries like Enviva, Purdue and RSI, as well as the Hamlet Police Department and UNC-Pembroke.
At least 17 people used the NC Works services available in the mobile office — a bus with eight desktop computers inside — much higher than the average of 10 when it makes stops at colleges, according to Steven Finger, who operates the bus for the Department of Commerce. This was the first year that NC Works has had its mobile office at the expo.
Melvin said the one-on-one guidance that the center provides is the biggest help to job-seekers.
“In-person help is value added that you don’t see with online services,” she said. In addition to helping prospective employees, NC Works was looking to help employers in their search as well. Working with the Lumber River Council of Governments and with funding from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, NC Works can fund training for new employees.
Director of Career and Transfer Services Patsy Stanley said vendors remarked that the level of talent at Tuesday’s expo was a step up from previous years, which she attributed to the college’s recent efforts to prepare students for the job market. The college created its Quality Enhancement Plan based on feedback from employers who wanted to see more graduates with speaking and writing skills.
Under the plan, the college has been adding more speaking- and writing-based assignments, including in math and science classes, along with cyclical assessments of students’ improvements in those areas. RCC has also put more of a focus on “ACA” courses which teach students the skills needed to be successful in college, as well as its Human Resources Development program which is designed to help people looking for work learn “soft skills,” like how to present themselves in a professional setting.
“That’s what’s really helping us out,” Stanley said.
Those “soft skills” employers need are often found in people they don’t expect — veterans, according to Jacqueline Yi, veterans supervisor with NC Works. Yi said veterans are often stereotyped in the job market as people who are only trained in combat, but she said the education provided by the military applies to civilian jobs as well.
“Most people can’t come to work on time or dress properly, show well in an interview, be courteous … with veterans this has been ingrained into them,” Yi said. NC Works helps veterans put their time in the military into terms that civilian employers can understand.
Mary Haley, 47, a veteran and former RCC student who hasn’t worked full-time since 2012, used the NC Works mobile office to update her resume and look for a new job. Haley said she currently works every other weekend, a job she found through NC Works, but wants a full time job in early childhood education or day care — and thinks she found a few leads.
“I was anxious and nervous but I’m so glad I went in there,” she said.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]