Job hunters who attend Wednesday’s Upper Savannah Regional Job Fair can not only seek employment but also learn about services that could be available to them, including mortgage payment assistance to eligible persons and the ability to expunge certain criminal offenses for those who have records.
Job seekers and employers who are hiring or will be hiring within the next four months will have the opportunity to meet at the job fair on Wednesday, Sept. 26 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Greenwood Mall.
More than 60 employers have registered. People who are unemployed or interested in changing careers are encouraged to attend. Workforce development professionals encourage serious job seekers to dress as if they are going for an interview.
Job seekers are encouraged to think ahead, be prepared, and take advantage of any opportunity that can be of benefit to them not only now, but in the future.
A list of employers and jobs is available at www.upperscworks.com/jobFair.php by clicking on the confirmed employer list and available jobs.
The job fair also includes several workshops that can help job seekers can an edge on the competition.
Workforce development professionals encourage job seekers to get a head start by looking up the list of companies that are attending and their lists of job openings.
“The best way to get the most out of the Job Fair is to review the list of employers and make a list of who you want to see first,” said Upper Savannah Council of Governments Workforce Development Administrator Sandra Johnson.
“Most of the participating companies have websites. So job seekers can research information about these companies ahead of time,” she said.
Another time saver is to have a resume already prepared. And bring plenty of resumes.
“Having a resume allows you to leave something with the recruiter,” Johnson said. “It also helps you to have all of your employment history in one place.”
And for people who might not necessarily be looking for work now but likely will be in the future, the job fair can provide an excellent networking opportunity not only with employers but also education and training providers.
“The great thing about the job fair is you can network,” Johnson said. “You might see a company that you are interested in that doesn’t have an opening yet for your occupation. You can have an opportunity to get to know someone at the company who can give you insight into their future hiring needs and let you know about their hiring process.”
Training and education providers will be on hand as well, and job seekers from past job fairs have received information from these booths, taken advantage of their offers, and gone on to receive degrees and certificates that have led to employment.
But above all else, be professional because first impressions are everything.
“Because you are meeting company representatives in person, it is important to make a good impression. Avoid wearing blue jeans or shorts. Wear a nice ironed shirt,” Johnson said.
There are two new workshops on the schedule. From 12:40 to 1:05 p.m., Tammy Keesee of Piedmont Technical College will teach the SC Mortgage Help workshop which provides information on a state program that can assist unemployment insurance recipients who are in need of financial assistance to cover mortgage payments.
“A lot of people don’t know about this program,” Keesee said of SC Mortgage Help. “They have different kinds of programs within this funding. One is to bring mortgage accounts up-to-date if you’ve gotten behind. It’s a one-time service.
“Second, if you are receiving unemployment benefits and qualify, they can assist with making your mortgage payment for up to one year. And if you are in a high-risk county like Abbeville, they might can qualify to have their mortgage paid for 24 months instead of 12.”
Keesee said there has been funding available in the past for rental assistance more so than mortgage assistance.
“SC Mortgage Help is a government program and it’s a result of the economy and high unemployment,” she said. “It was something the government determined we needed.”
Information is available at www.scmortgagehelp.com. Also South Carolina Legal Services, a United Way supported agency, helps people complete mortgage assistance paperwork.
Another new workshop takes place from 1:35 to 1:50 p.m., when Jared Simmons of the Eighth Circuit Solicitor’s Office presents Expungement: When your Background is an Issue. In this workshop, people can learn about the expungement process since criminal records can greatly hinder employment.
Eligible offenses are “usually anything that is in municipal or magistrate court that is a first conviction,” Simmons said. “A lot of people come up here (to the solicitor’s office) for marijuana charges, assault and battery charges, lower court charges.
“(To be eligible) they can’t have anything else on their record within three years. Expungement helps out a lot because sometimes people make mistakes and they are sent to court,” he said. “But it also holds them accountable because they have to have that three-year limit.”
Simmons said convictions in general sessions court or driving offenses are less likely to be eligible for expungement.
Most companies perform background checks on anyone who they are interested in hiring, he said.
“A lot of employers prefer them not to have anything on their records period,” Simmons said. “Even if it was just a simple assault and battery 20 or 30 years ago, they (many employers) prefer you to have a clean record.”
Simmons said expungement is common and that citizens must provide their criminal history.
“We can review it (the criminal history) and determine if anything is eligible for expungement. There might be a fee if it’s a conviction in lower court. If anything is dismissed, it (expungement) is free.”
For those who cannot attend the workshop, information packets will be available that generally explain what is eligible to be expunged and what is not, as well as free scales and contact information. Angela Rowland of the Eighth Circuit Solicitor’s Office is the person to contact, he said.
The Job Fair is being organized by the Upper Savannah SC Works System, which includes the Upper Savannah Council of Governments Workforce Development Division, the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce, Piedmont Technical College, GLEAMNS Human Resources Commission, Greenwood Mall and area employers.
For more information about the job fair, contact Upper Savannah Council of Governments at 941-8050, 1-800-922-7729, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.upperscworks.com/jobFair.php or visit your local SC Works Center.