A line of individuals stretching nearly one mile in length wrapped its way around Turlock's War Memorial on Canal Drive on Tuesday with people snaking beyond the skate park and around the Turlock Irrigation District building. While the people represented a diverse array of backgrounds and ages they were all in search of the same thing: jobs, at Hilmar Cheese Company specifically.
The hiring fair was the first ever employment event to be held by the company, offering accepted candidates the ability to walk away with a contingent job offer. That is, if they made it through the line. Within three hours of the inaugural event over 1,500 applicants had been seen and while the line served as a quantifier of the need for jobs, the applicants were in good spirits despite rubbing elbows with their competitors.
“The people I’ve stood in line with have been delightful,” said Stephen Henderson, a part-time disc jockey who waited more than four hours to make his way into the interview process.
“It’s been a blast getting to know people,” added Josh Van Dyke. “I’ve been standing for six hours but they say you have to be able to be on your feet for a 12 hour shift so I guess I’m half way there.”
Originally slated to interview applicants in three sessions, the outstanding turnout required the company to interview candidates on a rolling basis.
“We’re so grateful to everyone standing outside for being so patient. They have been so gracious and every single person that comes through today, we will look at their application,” said Director of Education and Public Relations Denise Skidmore, who noted that individuals made their way from the Bay Area and beyond to attend the fair.
The hiring fair was held specifically for entry-level production employees, who are directly involved in making whey and cheese products, as well as supervisor positions at both the Hilmar location and new Turlock facility.
Once applicants were granted access into the War Memorial, individuals underwent a multistep process which began with an orientation video on the company. After a pre-screening step and written test, which included basic mathematics and English, individuals advanced to an interview portion. Those who passed the interview where offered a contingent job offer based upon their ability to pass a physical and drug screening.
“Basically, we’ve condensed a six to eight week process into one location,” said Skidmore. “It’s our first time doing this and we’ve been impressed all the way around.”
The company also developed a pool of attractive candidates who were not offered a position on Tuesday but could eventually serve to fill employment needs in the future.
Those interested in employment at Hilmar Cheese can also apply for non-production positions, such as those in maintenance or the lab, on the company’s website at www.hilmarcheese.com.