Career Concepts Thrives despite Job Search Web Sites

Article excerpt

Byline: Kelli Gavant Medill News Service

Business profile

Name: Career Concepts USA Inc.

Business: job fairs

Location: Cary

Owner, president: Bob Cramer

Employees: 26

2005 revenue: $4 million

Web site: www.careerconceptsusa.com

The Internet revolutionized the job search and hiring process, giving job seekers and employers greater access to each other.

Yet it has not simplified the process for either side of the hiring process, said Bob Cramer, president and owner of Career Concepts USA Inc.

"What's happened is the Internet has been a great tool for all of us for recruiting, but it's also made our society very lazy in our job search," Cramer said.

Career Concepts USA, a 25-year-old, Cary-based company, stages job fairs nationwide and markets itself as the Internet's missing link. It brings job hunters and hiring companies together in a way that matches the needs of both sides.

Despite Cramer's reservations about Internet job sites, Career Concepts uses sites like Monster.com to advertise. This generates a better cross section of potential candidates for companies to meet face-to-face instead of a stack of resumes to decipher.

Yet some people, such as Dustin Etheredge of Oak Brook, have success using the Internet as a job search tool.

"I have two interviews today, one for tomorrow and one for Monday," he said recently. "Of those four, two of them found me online."

Yet companies that advertise on the Internet can be flooded with resumes.

"You get a larger pool of candidates, but it takes a lot more time to filter through to find the top-quality candidate," said Brad Kallevig, a recruiter with Bloomington-based Country Insurance and Financial Services Inc.

Career Concepts does nearly 300 job fairs a year in more than 65 major metropolitan markets. The current growth is a remarkable turnaround for a business that almost shut its doors in 1990.

Struggling in debt, Cramer let go of all of his employees and nearly declared bankruptcy. Yet with a resolve that Cramer, now 53, credits to his faith, he gradually rebuilt the company.

For about seven years, all of his efforts went toward paying off about $500,000 in debt.

In the late 1990s, the business started to grow again. By this time, Cramer's competition had shifted to doing job fairs for the technology industry. …