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In the market for work

April 23, 2004|by TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

HALFWAY - Business was brisk at Valley Mall on Thursday, but many shoppers were after more than the usual fare.

They were shopping for jobs. And more than 40 local businesses were shopping for workers.

The occasion was the Spring Job Fair, sponsored by Hagerstown Community College, Maryland Job Service and The Herald-Mail. In addition to booths staffed by company representatives, the fair offered workshops on completing job applications, interview skills and preparing rsums.

Reginia Hawkins was one of those looking for a job.

"About half of Hagerstown has my application," said the 38-year-old single mother. "I've been looking for work since January. I'm getting frustrated," she said, clutching the seventh application she'd picked up at the mall.

If job seekers like Hawkins meant business, so did the companies represented.

"I definitely think we will get some employees from this," said Gus Hahn, operations manager for TruGreen ChemLawn in Hagerstown.

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About two hours after the job fair began, the company had gotten a number of promising applications, he said, and a steady stream of potential employees had stopped by the company's booth to ask about job opportunities.

The job fair was "a different thing for us," said David Czapski, regional manager for Aarsand Management, which was recruiting workers for Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut. "A lot of people are taking applications," he said.

At booths set up in the mall's main corridor, job seekers lined up to talk to company representatives.

Mona Pitt, 37, of Hagerstown, said she'd filled out six applications. Vinzena Lassiter, 27, of Hagerstown, said she'd completed about seven. Pat Oliver, 44, of Hagerstown, was on her second.

"We're looking for warehouse work, with good pay and benefits, in Hagerstown," Oliver said.

Sisters Michelle Myers, 22, and Leslie Myers, 23, also were looking for warehouse jobs. Both hoped to walk out with prospects, they said as they completed applications.

The job fair was a good thing, the sisters said.

"At least we know how many people are looking for jobs," Leslie Myers said. "There's a lot of us."

Jeanne Johnson, human resources manager for FujiColor Processing in Williamsport, said she had more than 50 applications from job seekers at the mall. But she said the company's activity at the job fair may have helped.

"We did the workshop on filling out applications," she said.

Nearly all those who attended had completed one of FujiColor's applications, she said. But she needed a lot of applicants.

"I still have about 25 positions to fill," Johnson said. "Summer's our busy season."

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