Caterpillar outlines job prospects for Athens plant
Nearly 400 people eager to learn about job opportunities at the new Caterpillar plant in Athens attended two job fair sessions sponsored by the construction equipment manufacturer at Athens Technical College, Thursday, September 26. Organized under the title, Bridging the Gap to Industry, both events were held in the auditorium of the Easom building on the Athens Campus.
Caterpillar human resources manager Mike White and fabrication manager Matt Miceli, doubled-teamed for an initial presentation that covered an overview of the Athens plant, the company’s corporate culture and vision, the types of jobs available at the facility, and which Athens Technical College programs would help qualify individuals for work at Caterpillar’s plant.
The 850,000-square-foot Caterpillar facility, which straddles Oconee and Clarke counties, has been relocated from Japan and is manufacturing small track-type tractors and mini hydraulic excavators. A small group of employees occupied offices at the plant in March. Crews have been making a few of the machines since July, but production is expected to begin in earnest in November, and eventually the company will gear up to produce 80 units daily. The plant will operate three shifts. The first shift began in July, and the third shift should start up in October, while the second shift will begin in November, Mr. Miceli said.
Mr. Miceli told the crowds attending the job fairs that Caterpillar planned to hire 1,400 people at the Athens facility during the next several years. He also noted that the company moved the plant from Japan to Georgia because the market for the equipment has moved to America.
In his presentation, he showed a slide that listed the new Athens facility’s areas of production —robotic and machine welding; computer numerical control (CNC) machining; powder priming and top coat painting; material handling and kitting; assembly supply for the main production line; in-process verification testing; pre-delivery inspection; and product distribution center.
The fabrication process will require a variety of jobs including welders, machinists, team leaders, section managers, and manufacturing engineers, Mr. Miceli said.
Mr. Miceli also emphasized qualities that Caterpillar managers look for in prospective employees. Those demonstrating a winning attitude and a willingness to observe and offer ideas for improvement will get the employer’s attention, he said.
“We are looking for people who are very committed, and who are willing to speak up,” he said. “It’s more attitude over aptitude.”
Additionally, Caterpillar employees should be safety-minded, detail-oriented team players with strong problem- solving skills, Mr. Miceli said.
Before Mr. White began his presentation on Caterpillar’s job application process, he shared with the audience that when he first submitted his resume with the company, he was intimidated.
“I was scared when I applied,” he told attendees. “I was worried about what questions they would ask me in the interview and what answers I would give.”
But Mr. White assured the job fair participants that Caterpillar’s website is designed to help qualified applicants through the process. He also emphasized that the only way individuals can apply for jobs at Caterpillar is online. Applicants must first register on the site www.caterpillar.com/careers, before they can submit their resumes. Human resource personnel and supervisors then review the resumes for each job.
At that point in his presentation, Mr. White stressed the importance of the resume.
“The biggest comment from those (at our company) reviewing the resumes is about the number of poor resumes,” he said. “Spend time on making a good resume.”
To help him catch errors and misspellings or offer suggestions on improving his resume, Mr. White asked 10 people — friends and colleagues — to review his resume before he sent it in.
The Caterpillar career website also has practice tests and practice interviews that feature the types of questions that will be asked in a real interview, Mr. White added.
“This is going to be a life-changing job and career at Caterpillar,” Mr. White said. “So take (these practice tests) to make sure you get it.”
Mr. White also told the audience that once a job is closed, resumes are pursed, so if someone did not get a Caterpillar job and wants to apply for a future one, they must resubmit the resume.
Following the presentations by Mr. White and Mr. Miceli, attendees in each job fair session were divided up. Half the group stayed in the auditorium to hear Athens Technical College officials review college admissions and financial aid options. The other participants moved into the Easom building atrium to share their resumes and abilities with Caterpillar workers and get advice from the company representatives. They also visited information tables staffed by people from the Georgia Department of Labor and from Athens Technical College programs such as Welding Technology, Engineering Technology, and Machine Tool Technology.
A computer lab in the Center for Teaching and Learning in the Easom building was dedicated to helping job fair attendees go online and register with the Caterpillar careers website, so when they get their resumes ready for job postings, they can submit them.
Nineteen-year-old Zach Cope of Athens, who registered on the Caterpillar site at the end of the Thursday afternoon job fair, said the event was “very educational” for him.
“It’s given me ideas of what I need to do and how I need to pursue those things,” he said.
Mr. Cope, who has been servicing automobiles for the past two years and currently works at Bulldog Kia in Athens, said he attended the job fair out of interest in furthering his education and starting a new career. He expects to enroll at Athens Technical College soon.
“Now, I’m pursuing my dream of becoming a professional welder,” he said.
Photo caption: Caterpillar human resources manager Mike White reviews the company’s recruitment process with the audience attending the morning Bridging the Gap to Industry job fair Thursday, September 26 at Athens Technical College. View more photos from the event here.