Job seekers get eye on opportunities at career fair

Published on April 29, 2015
Paula Fraser, right, and her sister, Janice, speak with Kimberly Brown, left, and Madison Tiller, centre left, representatives from the Nova Scotia Construction Sector Council during a career fair Wednesday at the Pictou County Wellness Centre. The event was hosted by Career Connections. Sueann Musick – The News 

NEW GLASGOW – Positive vibes were buzzing about on the top floor the Pictou County Wellness Centre Wednesday.

Thirty employers took time out of their own workdays to take part in Career Connections job fair that had people taking on-the-spot interviews, submitting resumes and talking to potential employers. 

“People that we are talking to are really nice,” said Paula Fraser who attended the fair with her sister, Janice. “It’s better than just looking at piece of paper.”

Janice, who recently graduated from as an environmental services technician, said she has tried to apply for work through websites but she prefers the one-on-one contact.

“It’s stressful looking for work online,” she said. “Some of them are really confusing, but here no one seems like they are better than anyone else,” she said. “We are out looking for everything. “

Heather MacIsaac of Career Connections, which hosted the job fair, said by lunchtime about 400 people had gone through the fair and some people had gotten interviews on the spot.

Many of the other businesses were accepting resumes and telling people what they would require for training to work in their field,” she said.

“There are jobs out there, but you have to dig for them,” she said. “You might have to take a lower-paying job and work up to the higher-paying ones.”

She said the most common thing she hears at the fair is that people are surprised so many employers are looking for work because the jobs aren’t posted online.

MacIsaac said all companies hire differently so online is only one option when they are looking to fill vacancies, she said.   The fair also opens people’s minds to the different kinds of jobs available from companies.  

For example, Laurel Rockey, human resources manager for the Nova Scotia Health Authority, said there is always room for nursing staff in health-related fields, but casual openings are also available in environmental services and administration.

“I do find these career fairs helpful because a lot of people don't realize there are job opportunities for more than just nurses and doctors,” she said. “There are 200 different types of classifications.”

There is a larger turnover of employees now compared to many years before because people are living a more transient lifestyle.

“I worked in human resources for 25 years and people used to go to work and stay there until they retired, but with this generation, they work a couple of years, try something else or another location. They go out west, to another city or their spouse relocates.”

Mike Beaton of AP Reid Insurance Stores agreed that the employers at the fair might surprise people with the jobs they are offering.

He said sales are a big component of the insurance business, but customer service and administration experience are also important which require a different skill set from sales.

Beaton said a lot of former Convergys employees passed through the fair Wednesday who have a unique skill set.

“That is good because we have a gamut of positions open,” he said adding that AP Reid has offices across the province, is expanding its sales operations in the west and recently opened a call centre in Dartmouth.

Whether it’s health care, trucking, construction work or fish plant worker, employers seem to be facing the same labour shortages.

“Absolutely, there is work in the trucking industry,” said Jeremy Nichols of the Commercial Safety College. “Really everything is available. You can work in the construction industry, short or long haul or heavy equipment.”

He said many people decided to leave Nova Scotia and work out west while many in the field are retiring.

As the local fishing season gets up and running, local fish plants in Lismore and Caribou were both on hand accepting resumes for a job that is often hard to fill.

“Production workers are hard to keep because it's a hard job with some long hours, but it’s rewarding,” said Jean MacDonald of the Lismore Seafoods. “We are doing well today. We have lots of applications.”

The Lismore plant needs about 40 permanent seasonal workers, maybe a few more during lobster season, to meet the demand of the product being processed.

“When we get the fish, we have to do it,” she said.

For recent university graduates like Lindsay MacLeod of New Glasgow, the fair gave her an opportunity to speed up her job search.

She has submitted a few resumes to some businesses that might be looking to hire someone with training in environmental service, but on Wednesday her search expanded a bit further.

“We just bought a house so we are definitely staying around,” she said, adding that she is willing to travel from Antigonish to Truro for work.

For more information on the career fair or the companies involved in the event, contact Career Connections at