Rockford’s St. Elizabeth Center Hosts First-ever Hiring Event
By Lynne Conner, Observer Correspondent
April 6, 2017

ROCKFORD—About 18 local companies were on hand for a hiring event hosted by the St. Elizabeth Catholic Community Center on March 21.

The event was co-sponsored by Catholic Charities, Goodwill and the Workforce Connection.

“This is not just a job fair, but a hiring opportunity for many who attended today,” said Emily Schwartz, an employment specialist with Catholic Charities.

“People are leaving today’s event with interviews set up,” she said. “This marks the first time that a hiring event was held at St. Elizabeth’s.”

Some of the companies at the hiring event included Ring Container Technologies, Rockford Park District, Goodwill Industries, Firestone, Tuffy Automotive Services and the City of Rockford.

Brad Nighswonger of Rockford was looking for a change of pace in his career.

“I’ve been doing construction work for the past 10 years. I’ve done retail work and I’ve worked in warehouses, but I’m looking more toward getting a warehouse job. ... There’s not a lot of work out there in construction, right now,” he said.

Nighswonger thought the hiring event had a good representation of local companies and filled out several job applications at the event.

Jessica Gonzales, a representative with the Workforce Connection said her company’s focus is career coaching and job readiness.

“We help people find jobs and help them create resumes, with interviewing skills, networking and we help put on hiring events like this one at St. Elizabeth’s,” she said. “We help people with employment skills, so they are ready to go out into the workforce.

“We also help pay for job training, so people are more marketable when they are seeking employment,” she added.

Beyond job skills, training and specialized certifications, Gonzales said that a stellar resume, people skills and a strong desire to be productive are key in finding a job.

“People have to know how to present themselves at a job interview,” she said. “People have to know how to interview well and how to network.

“It’s all about confidence. Many people have the skills and abilities. They just don’t know how to sell themselves. People come in with years and years of work experience and they have the skill set, but they just don’t know how to sell themselves,” Gonzales said.

Bob Palm came to the hiring event looking for work in the manufacturing supply chain area. He said the event helped to showcase several companies in the Rockford area and he was prepared to network with companies in order to establish personal contacts.

“Sometimes, companies don’t have a position readily available, but it’s still important to leave a resume with an employer as a position may open up in the future,” Palm said.

The event ran from 9 a.m. to noon and Schwartz said additional career events like this one are planned for the future.