Thousands attend first job fair of the year

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - By: Melanie Yamaguchi and Jade Storms

Nearly 3,500 people gathered at the Neal Blaisdell Center Exhibition Hall Tuesday for the first Job Quest job fair of the year.

"I've been recently terminated at my job, so I'm looking for a new career," Kaneohe resident Don Fern said. "I've come down to see, theres a lot of good companies, it looks like that are down here so hopefully I might be able to find something to start."

Hawaii's unemployment rate stands at 5.2 percent, which is below the national average of 7.8 percent.

Beth Busch, executive director of Job Quest, said with more than 150 employers in attendance, this fair was one of the nations largest.

"We do a lot of research about our competition on the mainland and if they have 40 or 50 employers, they think that is a really big fair," she said. "We've had as many as 240 employers here when our unemployment rate was at 3 percent, which is basically full employment."

Employers ranged from finance to healthcare, and applicants spoke to a wide variety of local and national businesses such as Bank of Hawaii, Hawaiian Airlines and Bed Bath & Beyond. As an added feature of this year's fair, job seekers had the option to take professional headshots specifically for use on their LinkedIn profiles, free of charge.

"It's still important that you have a resume and when you go to your interview, you're going to need that," Busch said. "But anybody that's doing a serious job search today is going to be looking online."

Busch added that while Facebook is used for social purposes where people can post friendlier photos, job seekers should consider LinkedIn as more of a professional social networking tool.

Many people today use online resources to find jobs, but one of the biggest benefits to career fairs is that job seekers get the opportunity to meet their potential employers.

"There's nothing like meeting people face-to-face, and what some people don't realize when they come here and what we try to explain to them is  that the people who man these booths are the people who do the hiring," Busch said. "So if you can come in here and make a connection and make a good first impression, you can get an interview."

The next Job Quest job fair is in May, for more information you can click here.

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