By Megan Alley
A group of individuals with developmental disabilities had the opportunity to show off their skills and work experience to potential employers during a reverse job fair on March 21.
The event was held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Ohio Means Jobs Clermont County, located at 756 Cincinnati-Batavia Pike.
The Clermont County Board of Developmental Disabilities coordinated the job fair event.
Ahead of the event, jobseekers attended a three-day job readiness boot camp.
While there, job seekers honed their interviewing skills, created elevator speeches and learned how to dress suitably for an interview.
Additionally, each participant created a display board about his/her job skills and compiled a portfolio with specific information.
Information included a headshot, copies of their resume, certificates of achievement, letters of recommendation and any other honors received in a prior job or school class.
All of the materials were displayed at the event, which some nine employers, including representatives from The Home Depot, Kroger, Walmart and McDonald’s, attended.
Jobseeker Marina Bolin, 23, who is a trained and experienced housekeeper looking to continue in that line of work, or as a dishwasher, said that she felt really good about her interactions with potential employers.
“I liked talking to them,” she added.
Sherri Bowling, business service representative for OMJCC, said turnout for the event, which was the first of its kind hosted by the agency, exceeded expectations.
“We actually had employers waiting to get in before 10 a.m. this morning, so we were very excited about that, and we’ve heard some very positive feedback from the employers where they’re interested in multiple individuals,” she said. “We hope to make it an annual event.”
Bowling said that the employers were looking to fill “many positions” in the area, including jobs in food service, general labor and retail.
Matthew Lisa, general manager for Red Robin in Milford, met three job candidates and conducted two on-site interviews.
“This event gave me the opportunity to observe body language, before even approaching … and they all had resumes and posters made which actually really was quite helpful, because in the posters, some of them had pictures of them busing tables or running dish machines,” Lisa said, adding, “From the visibility piece, and then the resume and poster, I was able to gauge what candidates might be an interesting interview for me.”
Lisa has a history of hiring and working with individuals with developmental disabilities. In 2015, Red Robin in Milford was named “Employer of the Year” by the CCBDD.
“These folks, through the program, apply for and are usually working the toughest positions to fill. So, I use this program because of its reliability and its dependability,” Lisa said. “These folks, when they have a job, they appreciate it, which is a lost art anymore.”
He added, “One thing that I make very clear is that they fulfill a specific need within the restaurant. It is not a special needs job. It is a job that a special needs individual has the skills and ability to fill. We do not adjust the job requirements in any way.”