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Employers court workers at Valley Mall in Hagerstown

April 25, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HALFWAY - People trolling Valley Mall's concourse Thursday were driven by a single phrase of opportunity: Help wanted.

With dozens of eager recruiters, they appeared to be in luck.

More than 60 organizations had booths at the midday job fair, said Heather Guessford, classified manager at The Herald-Mail, a main sponsor.

Guessford said mall officials have estimated the event draws more than 2,000 people, although the method is inexact.

Regardless, "it's the biggest job fair in Washington County," she said.

Other sponsors were Hagerstown Community College and the Washington County One-Stop Job Center.

Guessford had no arguments from several employers and other job-related outfits who reported heavy traffic and plentiful interest.

"I've never had this kind of response at a trade show," said Laurie L. Ballow, an admissions counselor for Job Corps, a federally funded residential training program for peoples ages 16 to 24.

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Paul Flohr, the director of safety at Ram Tech, a government contractor at Letterkenny Army Depot in Chambersburg, Pa., pointed to a thick stack of résumés in front of him - about 200 were submitted, he figured.

"We probably brought 300 business cards," he said. "They're all gone."

At the fair, job openings ran the gamut from distribution to health service, from higher education to gaming.

Some employment representatives reported that most people they talked to were laid off from their last job. That included former employees of Fujicolor Processing and Volvo Powertrain North America, two Washington County plants that recently made cuts.

Derek O'Donnell, 26, of Hedgesville, W.Va., said he works as a sales representative in Hagerstown, but he needs a job with health insurance. He said his cancer has been in remission for 10 years.

J.D. Mullenix, 19, of Falling Waters, W.Va., stopped to ask about jobs at the Kmart distribution center in Chambersburg. The wage for most jobs started at about $11 an hour, with raises after 90 days and one year.

"I'm looking for just basically anything," although a commute of no more than 15 to 20 minutes was preferable, Mullenix said.

Guessford said computers were set up at the fair to accommodate job seekers who wanted to apply right away. Many employers only accept online applications.

Some attendees were in the market for free résumé advice.

Jennifer Rigsby, who is new to Hagerstown, sat down thinking her resume was pretty good, and left realizing it needed polishing.

"Basically, how to outline it better and make it pop," she said.

Rigsby said she will list each position first, then the employer and will pick out about six of her strengths to list at the top.

"She was really, really helpful," Rigsby said.

"Keep it short and sweet," offered Faye Stauch, a job trainer with the Department of Social Services, a partner with the One-Stop Job Center. "Use some strong active words.

"They should highlight their accomplishments, not their responsibilities. There's a big difference."

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