The Ottumwa Courier

Ottumwa

April 24, 2014

Face to face

OTTUMWA — People were at tables, leaning against poles, even using the small stage as a desk at the IowaWorks Southern Iowa Job Fair. They were filling out employment applications.

The job fair is a better way to do that than sitting at a computer, said Debra Weiss of Ottumwa.

"You get to see what's out there," she said, looking around at the dozens of companies that were hiring. "Meeting them face to face is more comfortable for me anyway."

Rita Tecpile, also of Ottumwa, was filling out applications at the same table. She agreed.

"I've gotten more out of it than seeing the job description on a computer screen. You see them, you can ask questions," she said.

She was able to choose from among 60 employers this year, a record, said Mick Lawson, regional director for IowaWorks.

"The employers are who add credibility," he said. "When they return, we know they had a good experience in the past."

"I still have a job," said Laticha Gauthier, who drove in from Centerville with a friend, "but I want to find something [more] I'd be qualified for."

Thursday, she found another job opportunity that would allow her to keep her current job, and add an additional paycheck.

"I can do home care," she said.

"It's pretty simple: The more employers we have, the more job seekers come through," Lawson said.

Someone like Gauthier, who isn't afraid to interact with people, will benefit from a situation like that at a job fair. While "shy" people can find success, walking up to a booth and meeting the boss can be helpful. Seminars at the IowaWorks Job Fair told participants about meeting employers, completing resumes and even how to dress via a fashion show Thursday.

One day, Gauthier wants to get back into management. She was an assistant manager, but without a college degree, getting into that top tier is tough, she said. She doesn't have time to stop working in order to get a four-year degree, she said, but an advantage she does have is ambition, and a willingness to improve her situation.

"I'll keep looking until I find where I want to be," she said.	

To follow Mark Newman on Twitter, check out @CourierMark

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