On Wednesday, October 17, more than 2,000 people filed into Shopko Hall in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin, with one goal in mind: find a job.
According to ABC affiliate WBAY, the career fair was organized by the state Department of Workforce Development to help lower the region's unemployment, and to do so, it added a new twist to the event that it hoped would spur attending companies to hire more. This new process entailed pre-screening job fair attendants to determine the potential they have to land a job, and working closely with employers.
Many had high hopes going into the event.
"I really want a job. I've been unemployed for a year, and I'm tired of it. Sick and tired of it," said job seeker Karen Scott.
Fellow event attendant Janeen Moore said the job fair was a great opportunity to break away from the online application grind, which can often leave candidates up in the air as they wait to hear back from potential employers.
"Once you fill out the application online, you never hear responses. Did it go through? Did it save? Did it submit?" she said.
According to the media outlet, the fair gave job seekers face-to-face contact with several employers, and this, coupled with the Department of Workforce Development's new strategy for running the event, likely upped the chances of getting hired.
"We started a new model this year where we pre-screened people and where we work really hard with employers to make sure they have real job openings to be part of that job fair," said Brian Solomon, director of job service for the Wisconsin Job Service.
Each job seeker was screened before attending the event to ensure they were qualified for the 1,300 openings companies were hiring for, which ranged from manufacturing to healthcare positions.
The change had a resounding effect, with the DWD having to cap the number of employers who hoped to attend the event to 100 after requests to set up booths surged.
"We're very happy with the turnout. There's quite a few people here. We're excited, hoping we'll get some good candidates," said Allison Donlon of Nemac in Sheboygan.
The positive sentiment at the job fairs echoes recent reports from across the country that the jobs environment could be improving, with unemployment in New Jersey and Illinois both falling for the first time in months, news sources say.