900 Job Seekers Attend Cherokee Career Expo
CANTON, March 30, 2015 – More than 900 applicants, armed with resumes, lined up March 25th at the first annual Cherokee Career Expo to speak one-on-one with recruiters from 30 of the county’s top employers. The turn-out exceeded all expectations. Recruiters were looking to fill about 600 vacancies. And maybe to some, those numbers add up to little more than a job fair. To others, though, it’s a sign the recession, that’s had Georgia in its grips for so very long, is finally over.
Even before the doors opened to the public, about 200 job seekers were mulling about in the lobby of the Northside Hospital-Cherokee Conference Center, waiting to go inside and lock down a new career.
“This is what we’ve been looking for to recruit candidates within the county,” said T.C. Chapman of Roytec Industries Incorporated. “You always hear about people looking for work. Well, flip that around. This is a prime example of corporations looking for skilled workers.”
“We received well over 200 resumes,” said Carolyn McGarty, Senior Human Resources Generalist at Chart Industries. “We’ve already reached out to some of the candidates to come in and interview with the hiring managers.”
President of the Cherokee Office of Economic Development (COED) Misti Martin identified the need for a career expo around the first of the year after interviewing Cherokee industry leaders for a biennial survey. “It almost became a common theme in talking with the county’s existing industries,” said Martin. “We heard time and time again how they could use help building awareness for a wide range of job opportunities. And since they requested it, we went to work to deliver.”
COED Chairman Marshall Day added, “Anywhere from 65 to 75 percent of job growth comes from existing industry. And since the greatest force for change is a job, it was an easy decision to support a career expo.
COED partnered with the Georgia Department of Labor, and within about three weeks planned, organized and executed the four-hour expo. Admittedly, no one really knew what kind of crowd to expect, since it was the first of its kind. In fact, a recruiter called COED the afternoon before the event to ask how many applications to bring. When she was told 300, she laughed and said she needed about 20 at the last job fair she attended.
Yet, on the day of the event, a steady crowd continued throughout the entire day, talking non-stop with recruiters. The line for Northside Hospital alone stretched across the room and out the back door the entire event. Career advisors from Reinhardt University and Chattahoochee Technical College worked non-stop helping an influx of candidates improve their resumes. When a hearing impaired job seeker arrived on site, COED had an interpreter ready and waiting to help.
What an irony the event’s success was predicted years ago. Around 2009, the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) released a Regional Snapshot indicating Cherokee County would lead the Atlanta region in job growth until 2040, predicting a 166.3 percent increase in jobs. That prediction came full circle and came to life with the success of the Cherokee Career Expo.
“There’s just no doubt,” said Martin. “Cherokee County’s time is now.”