“I’ll do whatever it takes,” said Audrey Ciccone, 44, who recently relocated from Carmel, Calif. “I have found the representatives here highly informative. Networking is the key in this market. There’s a lot of work, especially if you’re looking for entry-level positions.
With dreams of finding somewhere to show up everyday and receive a regular paycheck, job fair attendees — dressed in everything from full suits, casual jeans and T-shirts, overalls and business-casual attire — competed for up to 1,600 seasonal and full- and part-time positions. The second-annual Northern Nevada Job Fair lasted from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Silver State Pavillion Ballroom and was busy from the moment the doors opened, booth operators reported.
“It’s gone very well,” said Helen MaGee, a senior recruiter from Barrick Mining, a company with 230 current openings in Elko, Winnemucca and Eureka. “We’ve probably had 500 people apply.”
Brandon Welty, 29, was one of the applicants seeking a position with Barrick Mining. In an unfortunate choice, he had to quit his job recently to move temporarily to San Antonio, Texas, in time for the birth of his daughter, Zoe, he said.
“I made it just in time for the delivery. You never get a second chance at those moments in life,” Welty said. “Now I’m looking for a position to be able to get my wife and baby up here.”
Welty, a physicist with a degree from the University of Southern California, hopes he has what it takes to make it in the mining industry, he said.
“Mining might be too much of a stretch, but there are a few things I might qualify for,” he said.
As résumés and applications rolled into the hands of representatives at the last minute before closing time, people with hopes of finding new careers were still hard at work asking questions and filling out paperwork.
“Right now, in this economy, I’m getting good at doing more with less,” Ciccone said, while waiting in line behind several other seekers — resume in hand. “Just getting the opportunity to get into an organization is paramount to the next step into getting to where you were pre-crash.”
State data released March 30 showed Nevada’s unemployment rate fell to 12.3 percent in February, down from 12.7 percent the month earlier, although much of that came because discouraged workers have dropped out of the job force.
But while unemployment is falling, so is many people’s optimism. State officials say about 6,500 unemployed workers gave up looking for work in February and dropped out of the labor force.
At Tuesday’s job fair, many applicants told company representatives they were unemployed but willing to do whatever it took to start work.
Some of the companies at the job fair included Aerotek, Alere, Atlantis, Amazon, Bally Technologies, Custom Ink, Barrick Gold, Grand Sierra Resort, Caesars Entertainment, Affinity Gaming, John Ascuaga’s Nugget, the U.S. Navy and Army, Kelly Services, Siena Reno, Apple One, NV Job Connect and the state of Nevada.
Brittany Brown, human resources manager at John Ascuaga’s Nugget, said she had already accepted 400 hand-written résumés with promises of many more online submissions. The company only had 33 openings as of Tuesday morning, plus seasonal work, she said.
But, she said, it didn’t matter if the applicant is currently working.
“There have been some great applicants. It’s a little overwhelming,” Brown said. “Being helpful and friendly are qualities I think are big. We consider anybody, unemployed or not. It’s tough right now. We look more for personality.
“ ‘Wow the guests!’ Mr. Ascuaga always says,” Brown added.
Employment dropped in all Nevada’s private and government sectors except for mining, logging and hospitality. The total, seasonally adjusted employment numbers went down 12,800 in February, although employment numbers in the first two months of 2012 are still up by about 7,700 compared with the same period in 2011.
Nevada’s jobless rate is higher than the national unemployment rate of 8.3 percent.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.