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Why I decided to host a career fair for free

A couple of months ago, I decided that it should be easier for our clients working in the construction industry to find great talent. We brainstormed and came up with the idea to host a construction career fair in Portsmouth and Manchester. We charged employers a fee that would cover our cost. Then we started to promote it, we found that many agencies could not promote our event, because we were charging employers ($150.00) to attend the fair.

Now we were stuck. We wanted to get the word out that great positions are available, that construction is a great industry to work in and help our clients find great talent. But we couldn’t promote it, because government agencies have their hands tied with strict guidelines. As an employer I was stuck between losing money on an event or supporting our clients with finding great talent. When I saw what we were doing, I decided to follow the guidelines and spend our own resources on a fair  because I believe that I should support my clients in any way I can.

Now that I have spent our time and efforts in helping them, I ask you to do the same. If you are an employer, attend the fair and show job candidates what you do and what jobs you do have available, now or within a few months. If you are a construction professional, attend the fair. Get connected with the hiring managers. Find a job as a civil engineer, carpenter or project manager.

Still not convinced? Read why Green Cocoon and Ridgeview Construction are attending:


Construction Career Fair is the First of its Kind

BY PATRICK MARTIN |Green Alliance Staff Writer

According to the National Business Research Institute, 66 percent of employers said they experienced the negative effects of bad hires in 2012. Depending on the position, a mistake of this kind could cost anywhere from $25,000 to $300,000. But are bad hires the result of poor workers, or are businesses just not getting in touch with the right people?

Manchester-based human resources firm Cultural Chemistry plans to revolutionize the construction industry’s hiring process.

“Over the years, we’ve noticed that in the construction industry, when firms are hiring, everybody is looking for the same people,” said Mirjam IJtsma, owner of Cultural Chemistry. “But not everybody fits in a certain company’s culture.”

While trying to fill a project manager position for Ridgeview Construction, IJtsma was inspired by how difficult it was to engage construction professionals. Her initial instinct was to send Ridgeview to an industry career fair, only to learn that one did not exist in New Hampshire.

Encouraged by Shane Carter of Ridgeview Construction, IJtsma and her staff have organized two career fairs that will bring construction employees and employers face-to-face under one roof. The first will take place March 15 in Portsmouth, and the second April 5 in Manchester.

This fair is designed to give employers and professionals the chance to meet in person and get a feel for whether or not they are a good fit without running the risk of learning the hard way. Bringing similar businesses together and engaging them in a discussion about their employment needs is a new concept for the construction industry.

According to Carter: “The fair creates more of an ecosystem of businesses and labor, such that we can keep the best skilled people in our industry and match them up properly with the correct company or management style. People often think of construction labor as simple or unskilled, but it really is much more than that.”

As a more progressive HR firm, Cultural Chemistry puts greater emphasis on the cultural aspect of the job setting. It believes that the type of environment required for one person to thrive may not be the same for another. Consequently, a person’s departure from a position may not reflect poor performance, but instead a mismatch with his or her needs and the company’s capabilities to support the professional to succeed.

Recognizing this aspect of the labor market that is often left unconsidered, IJtsma and Carter are trying to emancipate businesses from the “cookie-cutter” selection of candidates.

“A carpenter, for example, can work OK in one company and not in another. But if a worker is not a good fit in one organization, he or she might be a good candidate in another organization,” said IJtsma. “When someone leaves one company, there’s nothing wrong about the person; instead the situation may reflect a mismatch between the employee and the company’s culture.”

It is this waste of human capital that the construction career fair is fixed on eliminating. With greater efficiency in selection, businesses and employees can settle into a new groove and get back to work quicker.

Candace Lord, general manager of the soy-based insulation company The Green Cocoon, is optimistic about attending the event as an employer.

“I think that this fair will be a great opportunity for us to find people who are interested in and qualified specifically for the construction trades,” said Lord. “Instead of creating an ad and having to sift through resumes, most of which are from people who have no experience or training in this field, we will be able to meet many people in one day who are looking for employment in this area of work.”

Not only does Lord believe this will save her business time and money, but she also believes this to be a much more effective way of finding promising new talent — an improvement on more recent practices.

“Word of mouth,” said Carter, “is the current standard of finding good construction labor, but it is certainly not without its pitfalls. You can have good and bad referrals, and often times people are hesitant to refer someone because if it doesn’t work out, it reflects poorly on them.” This hesitation can only hurt the chances of experienced workers who are on the job hunt.

The Construction Career Fair, which Carter calls a “rare” thing for New Hampshire, represents a perfect opportunity to network and strengthen New Hampshire’s construction industry. By working together and viewing each other in a less competitive manner, N.H. construction businesses can make hiring easier across the board.

The Portsmouth Construction Career Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on March 15 at Great Bay Community College. The Manchester Construction Career Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 5 at Manchester Community College.

Cultural Chemistry, The Green Cocoon, and Ridgeview Construction are Business Partners of the Green Alliance, a collaboration of local sustainable businesses promoting environmentally sound business practices and a co-op offering discounted green products and services to its members.

For more information about the Construction Career Fair or to register,

For more information about Cultural Chemistry, visit:

For The Green Cocoon, visit:

And for Ridgeview Construction, visit:

To learn more about the Green Alliance, visit:




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