Minority chamber helps to prepare potential Amazon employees

Laurice Thomas is director of Development for the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine
Thais Wilson explained the importance of having soft skills.

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer

It wasn’t until awhile after a lunch break that participants at a job matchmaking fair got a chance to do what brought them out in the first place – to sign up for a chance to be hired.

For more than an hour leading up to the break, life coach/motivational speaker Thais Wilson took the attendees through a talk intended to make them workforce ready. She meticulously explained the importance of having soft skills like effective communication, avoiding the naysayer on the job and knowing how to be a team player.

“Gone are the days of just being able to type (or) being able to do certain automated tasks,” Wilsons said during a break. “Those are teachable task but can I teach you to be adaptable, can I teach you to learn how to be a team player, how to act during a conflict or when a situation or issue comes up. Those are more personality-type things so a lot of agencies in the workforce are looking for people who have those types of traits or personalities about themselves. Even negotiation skills and people skills.”

Wilson was specifically preparing the job seekers for potential hire by Amazon. The group also heard from entrepreneur Jabaree Allen, who explained how they could make themselves employable and ways to identify who they are.

Following the talks, each person was assisted by Amazon staffers in setting up on-line profile for the e-commerce giant. Allen, owner of Business Automation Pros software company, also assisted with the sign-up process.

Amazon partnered with the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce to put on the event last Wednesday at the TNL Performing Arts Foundation Center.

Amazon is looking to hire 800 seasonal workers at its 630,000-square feet fulfillment center in Tallahassee, according to Gregg Rios, an Amazon spokesperson. The Tallahassee location recently opened with more 1,000 new employees.

Amazon didn’t hesitate when the opportunity to partner on the job fair came up, said Laurice Thomas, director of Development for the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce.

“We are excited about having them here, we are excited about what they are bringing to the community as far as the economy, job opportunities and partnerships,” Thomas said. 

She added that it was essential to make sure that the individuals who signed up for jobs were prepared by the talks that Wilson and Allen gave.

“Today, employment is becoming more and more competitive,” Thomas said. “You have skill sets that you’d never imagine that you needed. All these things have become important in the workplace so we want to make sure that we are not just teaching people how to fill out applications but we are teaching them how to perform on the job.”

On-the-job performance could include using non-verbal communication, Wilson told the group.

 “Sometimes you have to lose the battle to win the war,” she said. “Sometimes you have to treat others with respect and courtesy to get the job done.”

Just as important is teamwork, she said, encouraging the group to “use your soft skills to include projects and team-based work. Trust each other and work together as a team.”

Partnerships like the one between Amazon and the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce could be beneficial to Blacks, said City Commissioner Curtis Richardson.

“They (the BBMCC) typically are concerned about their members’ businesses but a part of that is making sure that their members have a trained and qualified workforce to get the job done,” said Richardson, who sat through a part of the session. “That is what this is all about.

“There is no questions that the opportunity and the benefits that Amazon is offering are tremendous. We need to make sure that potential employees have those soft skills. This is the time of the year they are hiring for seasonal work but those seasonal workers if they perform properly and have the kinds of skills that are required can turn into fulltime employment.”

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