Employers look for job seekers at local fair

Instead of perusing hundreds of nameless resumes online, business owner Clayton Hays joked with a candidate at a local job fair Wednesday as he skimmed her resume and connected with her on their shared farming background.

As one of 43 businesses looking for employees at the Hollenbeck-Bayley Creative Arts and Conference Center Wednesday, Hays said a job fair might be his best chance to find qualified employees.

“If somebody comes up to you and talks to you, you can tell right away if they’re serious or if they’re just kind of fishing,” said Hays, who owns Hays Fabricating and Welding, which has 30 employees.

It was the fourth — and largest — fair arranged by the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce and Job and Family Services of Clark County in the past two years. Amy Donahoe, chamber director of hiring and employer services, said she expected more than 700 people to attend.

The fair came at a critical time as the local unemployment rate rose 2 percentage points in the area from December to January. In just the first hour, more than 100 people lined up outside employer booths on Wednesday.

Hays returned to a job fair for the first time in many years after failing to find good candidates for open accounting and welding positions.

“Posting a position is no longer what it used to be,” he said. “Our Internet job postings have not been successful. We get applications from India and just other inappropriate applications.”

Job seekers are also eager to get away from online postings and want face-to-face interaction.

“This is my first job fair and I think it’s a bigger shot. I’ve applied online before,” said Miona Reagan, a Springfield resident who was laid off from a Columbus-based pharmacy last spring. “I’m hedging my bets.”

Reagan, who has 10 years experience with health care and pharmacies, said she has had trouble finding jobs because she doesn’t have a college degree. She remains optimistic that the economy will turn around and people will find jobs again.

“In health care there are always going to be opportunities,” she said.

Sinclair student Tre Hamilton didn’t share Reagan’s optimism. He has looked for jobs in the region for four months with no success.

“I don’t see it getting any better. None of my friends have jobs either and we’re all looking,” he said.