Group offers career series: Events give attendees crash course on job search tactics, skills

By most indications, the economy in Johnson County is strong.

The unemployment rate dropped to 2.5 percent in December. Companies are relocating to the county, and new small businesses are opening every month. Established industries in the county are in need of more workers as production expands.

But the economic success has revealed a problem: Businesses with jobs available cannot get the workers they need to fill them.

“The unemployment level is extremely low, and it’s extremely tight for our employers out there,” said Dana Monson, interim executive director of the Johnson County Development Corp. “We need more employees, and our businesses are growing, so it’s not just filling current jobs, but expansion for the future.”

To help potential employees prepare for their job search and connect them with local employers, businesses and community leaders have put together a series of workshops focused on career development.

The three events, organized by the Aspire Johnson County economic development effort, will give attendees advice on preparing a resume and how to approach an interview. Parents of high school students can take part in a forum detailing jobs in skilled trades, and everyone can explore employment opportunities in a variety of fields in a job fair featuring more than 30 area businesses.

“Having something like this is a two-pronged approach. In the short term, we want to get those jobs filled today. But we also want to create a pipeline for the jobs of tomorrow, so will have our students prepared to go into those jobs,” Monson said.

The first event will be an employment readiness workshop to learn about work ethics and job search skills, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 28.

The career development series was envisioned by Aspire Johnson County, a program of the Johnson County Development Corp. which unites community leaders to brainstorm, research and put into action ways to make the county more attractive. A team within Aspire Johnson County focusing on developing and retaining talent locally came up with idea for the career series.

Following the organization’s job fair last year, they had noticed that many of the people who came looking for jobs were not prepared to interview, Monson said.

“They didn’t know the right questions to ask about the companies, they didn’t know resume preparation, they didn’t know things like that,” she said. “We had an opportunity for them to come in right before the job fair for some quick tips, but we realized they needed more help than we could give in a short time.”

The solution was to plan a separate career readiness event the week before the job fair so people who haven’t had to interview for a job in many years, or never learned some of the important aspects of searching for a job, feel ready.

People will get tips on how to prepare for and how to present yourself during an interview, how to build your resume and how to follow-up with employers after the interview.

The event is a one-day crash course on interviewing for a job, Monson said.

Organizers also decided to add another component to their events. A career forum for high school students and their parents March 5 will help provide guidance and ideas in skilled trades for those who don’t have a clear picture on what to do after graduation.

Mike Duke, president of Duke Homes, will discuss career opportunities in Johnson County. Jason Roth with Ivy Tech Community College and Chad Betzler with Endress + Hauser will share information about skilled trades pathways and having a successful career without leaving Johnson County.

Other industry professionals and educational representatives will be available to answer questions and provide more information.

“Even today, we have a lot of high school students who are juniors and seniors who don’t know what they’re going to do. Mom and dad don’t really know what’s out there and the options,” Monson said. “This forum would let us specifically talk to our high school parents and show them some of the careers available and the skill sets that they’re going to need.”

Together with the job fair March 7, all of the events work together to strengthen the workforce in Johnson County and link workers with local industries who desperately need them.

“We want to help our employers get that message out that they have good jobs right here in Johnson County. They don’t have to go anywhere else. And we also want to help those who have been out of the workforce, been unemployed or underemployed,” Monson said. “The goal at the end of the day is to see all of our residents be successful.”

If you go

Aspire Johnson County Development Series

Employment Readiness Workshop

When: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 28

Where: Whiteland Community High School North Annex, 222 Tracy St., Whiteland

What: An event focusing on preparing people to interview, follow-up and land available jobs in the county. Lunch will be provided.

Cost: Free, though pre-registration is required at

Parent forum

When: 6:30 to 8 p.m. March 5

Where: Endress+Hauser, 2355 Endress Place, Greenwood

What: An opportunity for parents of high school students to learn about exciting career opportunities in skilled trades. Parents will have the opportunity to meet and talk with industry professionals and educational representatives to learn more about opportunities for their children. Door prizes and light refreshments available.

Cost: Free

Information: Go to

Career and job fair

When: 4 to 7 p.m. March 7

Where: Whiteland Community High School North Annex, 222 Tracy St., Whiteland

What: An opportunity to learn about and check out job opportunities with local employers

Cost: Free and open to all ages

Information: Go to

Author photo
Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2727.