Placement specialists say prospective employees are now in high demand
Job placement specialists from SEEK Careers/Staffing took their show on the road last Thursday, from their corporate headquarters on Opportunity Drive in Grafton to Fredonia.
Walk-in traffic by job-seekers during the morning session at the Fredonia Government Center was a little slow, but SEEK officials insisted the road trip was not about the volume of recruits.
“Even if we get just a couple applicants, it will be worth our time,” said Andrea Harmelink, team leader at SEEK’s Grafton branch office.
There are no placement quotas that have to be met at the job fairs.
“The goal is not to just plug someone into a job, but to make sure it is the best fit for the client and the employer,” Harmelink said.
Although the company started in Ozaukee County, SEEK now has 15 offices throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota.
“Each branch tries to have at least one on-the-road job fair each month,” Harmelink said.
During the fairs, prospective employees are asked to complete general job applications on a bank of laptop computers. They also work with a placement specialist who can help match skills and work experience with real-world workplace needs.
Those specialists then help make connections with employers looking for the kind of skill sets the applicants have to offer.
“It is very much like the process a client would go through if they walked into one of our offices any day of the week,” Harmelink said.
“The advantage the job fairs offer is that they make it that much easier for the job seeker to begin the process. Grafton is not that far away from Fredonia, but having a recruiting session here might be just enough to get someone to stop in and start a job search.”
Harmelink said there is still something of a stigma with some prospective employees about walking into a placement agency like SEEK for job assistance.
Part of that perception problem is that in the past the agency was seen as offering only temporary jobs.
“If someone is out of work, they’ll think, ‘I don’t want a temp job … I need a job I can count on being there,’” Harmelink said.
The reality is that SEEK now works with employers to fill a full range of positions, from temp jobs to full-time direct-hire employment.
“Right now, we are looking to fill 60 positions in Ozaukee County alone,” Harmelink said.
Many of those positions require highly skilled workers, such as welders, draftsmen and computer-assisted machinists.
That need translates into a strong market for job seekers, especially if they have the desired skills.
Harmelink has worked for SEEK for eight years, which has exposed her to the full gamut of job markets, from high unemployment to a glut of openings.
“If I had to characterize it, I would have to say it is an employee’s market today. If you look around, it seems everyone is looking to hire,” she said.
Yvonne Clemins, SEEK’s central district team leader who was also at the Fredonia placement event, said you never know what kind of inquiries will pop up at an open job fair.
“I’ve had people ask me how they can get a job like mine,” said Clemins, who did not take offense by the line of questioning.
“I think they were just curious,” she said.
Although SEEK has become more involved in making job placements in a number of professional fields, it has not forgotten that manufacturing is still the backbone of the American economy.
To that cause, Clemins said the agency has started Project Reboot — which lends steel-toed boots to workers who need the safety equipment to qualify for a factory job.
“When they start making money, they can replace the boots with ones they can now afford to buy,” she said.
The program has helped SEEK place more than 450 people into manufacturing positions.