Career Focused

People of Color Career Fair brings together employers, diverse candidates

Tue, 2017-04-04 11:01

The unemployment rate among Minnesota Latinos and African Americans is four times higher than that of their white counterparts, according to data compiled by the state Department of Employment and Economic Development.

At the same time, more Minnesota companies, governmental organizations and nonprofits have stepped up efforts to recruit a more diverse workforce.

Enter the People of Color Career Fair, which will bring together candidates of color and employers who are eager to meet them, network with them and hire them.

“The state of Minnesota is facing a workforce shortage and the growth in the future is going to come from our communities of color,” says event founder and executive producer Sharon Smith-Akinsanya.

“This career fair is necessary. It fits with our goal of making Minnesota a great place for everyone to live, work and play.”

The free daylong event, presented by U.S. Bank, the State of Minnesota and Comcast, is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 27 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Smith-Akinsanya notes that under-employment is also a troubling trend among people of color. She encourages people who are employed but ready for a new challenge to attend the career fair.

This is the second such event that Smith-Akinsanya has produced. Last October at the first People of Color Career Fair, 28 Minnesota employers had the chance to meet and network with 1,200 attendees.

“Many of these employers understood that they needed to bring it,” she says. “They showed up with their top level people, their hiring managers and the recruiters with power. The candidates of color are able to meet key people who are looking for them.”

Smith-Akinsanya advises attendees to bring at least ten printed resumes with them. She even has a strategy in place to prepare candidates to make a good first impression with employers at the event.

“We’re offering a career building boot camp the day before the event,” says Smith-Akinsanya. “We’ll have workshops, resume reviews and do mock interviews with the candidates to coach them. We want them to be in a position to make the most of the opportunity when they’re in front of employers who are ready to hire them.”

Candidates who register and submit a resume in advance will receive an invitation to the pre-event.

A second People of Color Career Fair of 2017 is already in the works; it will be staged at the Minneapolis Convention Center on October 9.