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Goodwill Job Fair draws diverse crowd

A group of young job seekers dressed to the nines walked into Southern Oregon Goodwill Industries Wednesday, resumes in hand and confidence in stride.

The job hunters hailed from Crater High School's transition program, which teaches life skills and training to students with modified or extended diplomas. Their search landed them at Southern Oregon Goodwill's Job Fair in Medford.

The event was the next step for these students after previous interview and resume-building practice and on-the-job training at businesses around the Rogue Valley. They were ready.

"I definitely feel a lot more comfortable actually going up to people," said 20-year-old Brena Giacolini, adding her dream job is to one day work with children in some capacity. 

The students weren't alone. In its fifth year, the event brought nearly 100 job seekers of many ages and experience levels.

"It is all across the board. It's a really diverse group of people," said Kris Kreutzer, Southern Oregon Goodwill director. "We have teenage students all the way up through professionals who are looking to change careers."

Among the businesses that attended were Advanced Business Teleservices, Central Point Holiday Inn, Elwood Staffing, First Student, Harry & David, People Ready, Lil’ Pantry, Pilot Travel Center, Providence, Southern Oregon Goodwill, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Consumer Credit Counseling. 

Goodwill centers across the country are holding 232 job fairs in May, according to the group's website. Similar job fairs will be held June 14 and Sept. 20 in Grants Pass, and Aug. 23 in White City, Goodwill officials said. Employers expected at the Grants Pass event include Rogue Truck and Body, Walmart, Encore Ceramics, Masterbrand Cabinets and Partnership for Community Living.

Job seekers in Medford networked with business representatives, handed off resumes, and filled out applications. Other services offered at the fair included credit reports, resume polishing and assistance with writing a cover letter.

Jake Prest, 27, said he's struggled with alcohol and drug issues in the past but has been making efforts to get back on track, including employment.

"I want to just be a professional," Prest said, as he filled out an application, a folder full of resumes nearby. "I'm just shooting for the highest I can right now."

Over the past five years, Kreutzer said, she's noticed a shift in the type of applicants businesses are looking for, and in the type of companies applicants seek. Applicants are being more selective, she said, while businesses are looking for people they can hire for longer periods of time.

"We're finding that people are being more specialized in what they want," Kreutzer said. "Even now, the temporary employers themselves are really looking for the full-time quality applicant."

— Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.

Jake Prest, 27, fills out an application Wednesday during a Job Fair at Southern Oregon Goodwill Industries in Medford. [Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch]
Tenth-grader Dominic Smith was among those who came from Crater High School's transition program, which teaches life skills and training to students with modified or extended diplomas. [Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch]