US Department of Labor/Flickr

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 7.3 percent of District residents — 28,135 people — were without work this May, down 1.3 percent from May 2013. However, this is still high above the national average of 5.5 percent.

In response to unemployment, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced that her 18th annual job fair will be held Friday, August 21 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Washington Convention Center.  The event is free for District residents.

The fair will begin with a job hunting workshop from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. Here, residents will learn best practices in preparing for an interview, managing an online profile, and building a resume. Workshop instructors are specialists in each field, and sessions will operate on a question and answer format.

Then, attendees have the opportunity to meet and mingle with employers from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. A wide range of private, federal and state agencies employers will be present to discuss jobs in construction, retail, labor unions, hotels, tourism, law enforcement, non-profits, and more.

Potential job sites include CVS Health, United States Postal Service, United States Capitol Police, Hamilton Crowne Plaza Hotel, Capital Rail Construction, and Fairfax County Public Schools. Over 40 District employers have been confirmed.

“The job fair allows people to do something that is rare today, which is to speak to actual employers gathered under one roof,” said Congresswoman Norton in an interview with Street Sense.

While noting that attendees should be encouraged to come see what kind of jobs are available in the region, she emphasized that a job fair is not a device for handing out jobs. Instead, it’s a place to find what may be a good fit.

“The notion of working below your skill level is important for anyone who is unemployed to understand,” Norton said.”You have to be willing to get yourself experience.”

Often times, the most important thing an individual can have in hunting for a job is a job.

Thousands of people are expected to attend the fair, and the competition — a mixed group of people looking to change jobs, looking for a second job, and looking for any job at all — is stiff.

“That should not discourage our homeless citizens,” said Norton. “They should not count themselves out of the job market.”