One of the organizations formed to help Ferguson and the surrounding north St. Louis County region after the death of Michael Brown is gearing up for its first so-called “hiring event.”
Ferguson 1000 Jobs held a job training session Saturday at Ferguson Heights Church of Christ in preparation for the hiring event on February 28. During the training they discussed resume writing and practiced mock interviews.
Kimberly St. Clair helped lead the training. She said through the training they will identify the skills of applicants and the barriers they have to finding employment. Then they will go back to the companies participating in the hiring event and find a good fit for the applicant.
“You know if you have a barrier and this particular employer is not going to hire you cause of that barrier then there’s no need to put you in that line,” St.
Clair said. “And it’s very defeating for candidates to do that over and over again. It gets exhausting, and so if we can eliminate some of that frustration it brings a lot more success to people’s lives.”
St. Clair said some of those barriers include transportation problems, lack of experience or education, and legal issues such as having a felony record.
Robert Crawley, 51, is dealing with the last barrier. He said he has been out of prison for a year and a half and has been looking for work for six months.
“When you have a record and come out here and hear so many people that aren’t hiring you don’t go out and try,” Crawley said. “But then when you have organizations like this that push you and show you and encourage you and give you that will to say ‘I can do this’ it feels good.”
Crawley said that it was especially helpful to him that the instructors acknowledged that everyone has barriers to employment and then talked about finding ways to get past those barriers.
But no matter the barrier, instructor Monica Johnson advised the applicants not to lie.
“If you remember nothing else from today, remember this: Don’t lie,” Johnson said. “If you can impress them with your resume than the interview is your opportunity to explain.”
Just four people attended the training on Saturday. St. Clair speculated that the cold and snow might have kept some people away.
“We’re going to do more publicizing and we anticipate a bigger crowd next Saturday (for their second training session).” St. Clair said.
Former gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence started Ferguson 1000 Jobs with the aim of doing just that—connecting people to jobs. Rather than reinvent the wheel, St. Clair said the private organization seeks to be a resource facilitator of sorts—cataloging existing opportunities and helping people take advantage of them.
Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.