Career fair focuses on finding jobs for people with criminal backgrounds

CHICAGO (WLS) -- From help with a resume to a free haircut and even an on-site interview, hundreds of young adults got valuable help in their search for a job.

About 1,200 jobseekers came with resumes in hand to a career fair at Malcolm X College Wednesday, eager to meet with companies that were hiring on the spot.

Waiting for his turn was 32-year old Ikechukwo Nwokeji, who said he's an ideal candidate for a managerial position.

"Hard working. Willing to give my all. Energetic, good listener, good working," Nwokeji said.

He also has a criminal background - which has made seeking employment a challenge. The focus of this fair is job opportunities for people involved in the justice system. It was organized by the organization LeadersUp, which works to fight recidivism.

"These individuals who are re-entering have already paid their debt to society by being in the justice system," said Jeffrey Wallace, of LeadersUp.

Candidates have the chance to meet with dozens of companies that have adopted inclusive hiring practices.

"The more investment we put in the communities that we serve and we work for the better off that they're gonna be," said Perrin Crews, with FedEx.

Before the real interview, jobseekers have a chance to practice. Nwokeji sat down with a coach, then it was time for the real thing. His first interview was with Jewel - a meeting he's hopeful will turn into a job.

Part of the process of landing a job includes getting help with looking the part. Stylists provide free haircuts as well as jackets and ties for participants to borrow, providing resources and a pathway to employment for people eager to improve their futures.

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