With unemployment rates hovering around 18 percent in Stanislaus County, many residents are looking for any type of job they can find. Hundreds of those would-be workers lined up outside Modesto’s HIREvent and waited up to an hour for the opportunity to hand their resumes over to companies looking to hire.
“I’ve been unemployed for two years. It’s been hard to find a job and unemployment is down. I was a manager at a clothing store but at this point I’ll take anything,” said Vanessa Almaguer, who was waiting in line outside of the job fair.
Almaguer was not alone in her quest to find a job, any job, which offered steady pay. There were more than 500 people lined up along K Street when the Modesto HIREvent opened on Tuesday. The line stretched around the block, and stayed steady throughout the afternoon.
Kathy Caricato, job fair coordinator for Job Journal, said that a similar event in Stockton brought almost 2,000 job seekers in January. Job Journal coordinates HIREvents where local companies can meet potential job candidates. The event was free to the public and included resume critiques and job-related seminars. Job seekers turned out in droves, but Caricato was not surprised by the turnout.
“We’re the only ones who do a job fair in this area anymore,” Caricato said.
Caricato said that there were 14 companies present, all actively recruiting employees. Positions ranged from entry level to upper management. Some companies, including E & J Gallo Winery, were hiring for a number of positions at the fair.
Allie Caldwell with Citadel Broadcasting was recruiting for one part-time person to work an entry level job in promotions for local radio stations. During the first hour of the fair Caldwell talked to an estimated 60 people who were interested in the position.
“We’ve seen so many people today, how could we not find someone?” Caldwell said.
Unemployment knows no bounds, and there were job seekers of every age, ethnicity and experience level looking for positions. Most were currently unemployed, but some were employed but seeking full-time or steady jobs. Attendees had work experience in hundreds of fields, everything from accounting to engineering to plumbing and sales.
Persistence paid off for some, including Gina Wise, who has been out of work for about four months. She was one of the several hundred people waiting outside of the HIREvent before it opened at noon. She waited about 45 minutes to get in the door.
“I got a job interview so it was worth it,” Wise said.
The most important thing about job fairs, Wise said, is to come prepared.
“Have your resume up to date and ready to hand out, and dress professionally,” Wise advised.
Others were less optimistic about their odds of finding employment at the job fair. Patrick York stopped by the HIREvent while he was in downtown Modesto on Tuesday, but he said “forget it” when he saw the line.
“If I would have known years ago what the job market would be like today, I would have done things differently. Now it’s a one in a thousand chance of getting hired,” York said.
The majority of attendees at the HIREvent decided to take their chances and hand in resumes to whoever would take them. Alberto Godinez said that he is currently working as an independent contractor for a cable company, but he would like a stable job with a better future. He said that the job fair was a great opportunity to find work that would support his family.
“It’s great that there’s still hope,” Godinez said.
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