A job fair Tuesday in downtown Mesa attracted a steady stream of job-seekers with varying degrees of optimism.
Marilyn Helmstadter, who moved recently from New Jersey to Gilbert, was among those confident they will find a job soon.
“I think this is a really good area for opportunity,” she said. “In fact, we said if we don't find something we should just shoot ourselves because there's a lot of opportunity here.”
On the other hand, Wade Lyter, of Scottsdale, is having a tough time remaining confident in his job search. He has been looking for a job in accounting for about two years after being laid off from a private firm.
“After two years, it's very difficult to think that should do it, but each day you wake up and you try to do the best you can and go on from there,” he said.
The East Valley Job Expo featured more than 40 employers, both public and private. The annual event included several first-time vendors, such as Manpower, U.S. Food Service, Midland Credit Management, Exxon Mobile and World Financial Group.
One of the booths that attracted the most visitors was Manpower. Ingrid Kirchmaier, a recruiter, said the firm has many positions in the clerical and industrial fields.
“Most people are asking for clerical, data-entry positions in that field, and we do have those openings so we'll call them,” she said. “Also, we have some positions in the semiconductor and technical fields. The last two months we have had more openings. We have more expectations than we did a couple of months ago.”
U.S. Food Service, which provides food-service products and services to restaurants, hotels, hospitals, nursing homes and schools, has several openings at its financial processing and technology center at I-10 and Elliott Road.
“The positions that we're here actively recruiting are all focusing on the financial-processing side of our world,” said Kim Urick, human resources manager at the company's national processing center. “We'll go back to our office and take a look at these folks who have expressed interest to see if there are some good candidates, which I believe there are. Our hiring outlook is very good for the moment.”
Midland Credit Management, which buys charged-off credit card debt from major credit-card issuers, is now hiring 20 to 25 people per month to work at its Phoenix office, at 40th Street and Broadway Road, said Shannon Coolidge, a staffing specialist.
“We've seen a diverse group of people,” she said. “I could definitely see us potentially hiring from here.”
Among the job-seekers, Lesley Marshall, of Mesa, said the expo was somewhat helpful, but she was hoping for more employers, and more places to sit down and fill out applications. She is unemployed and has been looking for a job for about three weeks.
“I'm in finance and accounting, and I didn't find a lot of that here,” she said. “But I got Avon (which had a booth at the expo). I'm going to be selling Avon. That's one thing that I will add on to my full-time job. It's just something a little extra.”
Farrah Belcourt, also of Mesa, is looking for a job dealing with medical records. She is returning to the work force after staying at home for several months.
“I'm feeling pretty positive,” she said. “I filled out some applications, but no interviewing.”
Helmstadter is looking for work in education, and possibly marketing.
“The Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino exhibit interested me,” she said. “There's mostly entry-level positions, very few middle-management on up.”
Lyter said there were few opportunities for accounting jobs at the expo, but he was able to get some feedback and face-time with employers.
“The accounting industry is very tough, there's probably 20 applicants for every one job,” he said. “It's knowing somebody and getting to the right place at the right time.”