For people seeking a part-time summer job or a long-term opportunity, the place to be April 30 was the Delaware Congressional Delegation Job Fair at the Rehoboth Convention Center.
More than 700 of job seekers navigated the aisles that featured 60 employers from various fields. The fair was the 12th such event Sen. Chris Coons has sponsored, and he said the response is continuing to improve each time.
“At each of the job fairs we both recruit as broad and strong of a group of employers as we can, and we offer free training sessions for those who are seeking employment,” he said, noting the training sessions are designed to sharpen job hunting skills, such as resume building and learning modern job searching techniques.
Dean Dey, community resources librarian with Job Center at Delaware Libraries, said many job seekers lack a basic understanding of how to effectively present themselves through their resumes, or they are unaware of how to find a job opening. The internet is key, he said.
“Many people have problems filling out applications or have never even used a computer, and most of the applications these days are online,” he said.
Dey and his Job Center colleague Hope Ellsworth attended the Rehoboth job fair to make people aware of their services with hope they will use the free resource. The Job Center also helps folks find job leads.
Ellsworth said the manufacturing industry is always hiring. Locally, employers such as Mountaire and Purdue are often seeking workers with a variety of skill sets.
Lou Marsico, employment manager at Mountaire, said his company is looking to hire up to 75 new employees. He said job fairs are one of many ways he seeks out qualified candidates.
“We try to get our footprint out in the community to let individuals know we're there,” he said. “We've got kind of an open-door policy to try to get out and let people know that if they're looking for stable work with competitive pay then we're here and willing to look at them.”
He said locally there is a need for stable full-time employment.
“There's a lot of seasonal work with no benefits, but not a lot of full-time work with benefits, so that's where we're able to leverage to make an attractive option for some people,” he said.
Delaware City-based employer Metro Merchant Services takes advantage of each job fair. The company's sales manager Jonathan Peters hired six new employees from the Congressional job fair held in Newark earlier this year. He said he believes the job landscape seems to be improving.
“I think it looks like it's getting a little bit better,” he said. “We seem to be picking up and, of course, the more people I can hire as sales people, the better we do, so that's why I'm here.”
Employers attending the Rehoboth job fair crossed the spectrum, from representatives from the medical, educational and law enforcement fields to employers from insurance agencies and fast food and restaurant chains. Coons said a diversity of employment opportunities is the key to any successful job fair.
“We've been very pleasantly surprised at how many people actually have been hired out of the job fairs,” he said. “There's been a noticeable change over the last three years in the number of participants and the number of employers, and the number of people getting hired has steadily gone up. The recent job fairs like this one, you've got more job openings than there are people attending. I think that's a noticeable positive improvement.”