The job market today may be down, but inside the Georgia Mountains Center it was booming.
Hundreds of people filed in and out of the center Wednesday during the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce job fair and career expo, searching for opportunities to start or better their careers.
“(The expo) is very helpful because right now the job market is very, very tough,” said Elizabeth Bowers, an expo participant looking for employment. “This is a great opportunity for us.”
More than 50 employers, mainly from Gainesville, Hall County and surrounding areas, set up booths, fielding questions and taking applications.
Employers said the crop of applicants this year seems more prepared than in previous expos, something they attribute to the seminar leading up to the fair on how to be successful at a career expo.
“I think we’re really seeing a difference in terms of how candidates are presenting themselves,” said Janet Lowery, ZF Wind Power Gainesville employee relations manager. “I think that’s had a positive impact on today.”
Her company came into the expo looking to hire qualified applicants.
More than 900 people attended the fair, and chamber officials say employers indicated they interviewed several qualified prospects.
McDonald’s alone hired more than 50 people during the expo.
Potential employees varied from those searching for specific companies to those just looking for a job to pay the bills.
“I’m looking for certain companies,” said Shane Simmons. “I’m looking for companies that are worth putting 20 years of your life into.”
Simmons said he did some research into the companies involved in the fair so he could focus his time and energy into companies he felt would be the best fit.
Other job-seekers are just looking for whatever is available.
“I’m looking for any job — whatever is hiring,” said Cetera Buffington. “There are a lot of companies here, so hopefully something will be open for me.”
Some expo patrons even stopped by local colleges’ and universities’ booths, inquiring about possible educational opportunities.
“We want to show that we’re here to help support our community and to let people know that we’re another option for them,” said Johnny Kahn, an admissions counselor for Gainesville State College. “(The response has) been good, so I think we’ll get a lot of applications today.”
For some, the job fair provides them an opportunity to just get back on their feet.
“They’re offering a lot of stuff here,” said Deborah Collins, who is looking for another position with more hours.
“I’m just ready to get my life back. I had a good job, but with the economy, it was gone. “This fair lets us know that at least people are hiring now.”