McHenry Manufacturers Try A New Way to Hire: Skills Fairs

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IMEC and McHenry County Partners Join Forces for Workforce Outreach

I didn’t have to sell myself with my words. I could sell myself with my work.

On Tuesday, August 26th, The McHenry County Workforce Network and the Illinois Manufacturing of Excellence Center (IMEC) will kick off National Development Workforce week with a Skills Fair. Rather than a traditional hiring fair where candidates dress up and deliver resumes, the Skills Fair will put local plastics manufacturers face-to-face with job seekers to demonstrate their job skills.

Workforce Network & IMEC have teamed up with Skill Scout, a Chicago start-up and creator of this new way of hiring by helping companies communicate what their job actually entails with a compelling video and skills-based job profile. Similarly, companies review candidates by seeing them demonstrate job skills.

“Job postings and resumes don’t work. They don’t represent the job or the candidate very well,” says Elena Valentine, co-founder of Skill Scout. “Companies spend billions of dollars on job boards only to receive an overwhelming pile of resumes. It’s because of this misalignment that thousands of jobs go unfilled and thousands of candidates go unhired.”

This collaborative effort has been supported by the Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance who focuses on ways to increase employment and earnings for under-prepared workers.

“These companies, like many, are facing the skills mismatch challenge,” says David Boulay, President of IMEC. “They have worked together over the past few months to find new and unique solutions to solve their workforce challenges. This skills fair is the culmination of their work.”

But, Skill Fairs don’t just benefit companies, they benefit the candidate as well. One candidate who recently attended a manufacturing Skill Fair in Chicago said, “I didn’t have to sell myself with my words. I could sell myself with my work.”

The ability to showcase one’s talent gives candidates a better shot at an interview and eventual hire. For companies, a short list of candidates to observe and interact with enables better hiring decisions. Companies can see a candidate’s technical and personal skill.

"We look forward to working with Skill Scout to showcase the Skills Fair concept as new way of recruitment for employers and job seekers in an interactive setting,” says Julie Courtney, Director of McHenry County Workforce Network.

Candidates interested in participating in the Skills Fair are welcome to apply by taking a short online recruitment survey to ensure they meet the minimum criteria. Only 40-45 candidates will be invited to attend. For those who don’t qualify, the McHenry County Network wants to connect and provide support for other employment opportunities available in the area. Visit to learn more.


About IMEC
IMEC was established in 1996 with the goal of improving the productivity and competitiveness of Illinois' small and mid-sized manufacturing firms. A non-profit economic development organization, IMEC is funded in part by the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and through fees paid by Illinois manufacturers for IMEC's services. IMEC has helped more than 2,000 Illinois manufacturing companies to achieve more than $1 billion in improvements in productivity, sales and cost savings. IMEC has 11 offices statewide and 40 full-time manufacturing improvement specialists. To learn more about IMEC or other supporting organizations, contact Amy Fitzgerald, at 309-677-2977 or afitzgerald(at)imec(dot)org, or visit

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