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Job fair draws 900 to Civic Center
About 60 employers on hand talking to potential applicants
Job seekers fill out applications Thursday morning at the Gainesville Civic Center during the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s annual job fair and expo.

Brent Hill came to Thursday’s job fair with a mission: Get back on his feet.

In need of a full-time job and having a wife who is seven months pregnant, Hill had a little urgency in his step as explored employment options.

“The interview process is going great,” he said confidently as he stood in line, a prospect for one area company.

Hill joined some 900 other job seekers swarming the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s annual job fair and career expo Thursday at the Gainesville Civic Center.

Some 60 employers were on hand, with tables set up and recruiters talking to potential applicants. About 140 employer representatives and 30 event volunteers also attended, said

Amanda Lewis, the chamber’s project manager for economic development.

“And there are jobs available, so (this event) helps the employers and those looking for jobs. We finally had to cut off (employer registration). The Civic Center couldn’t hold any more in here,” Chamber President/CEO Kit Dunlap said.

As soon as the event opened at 10 a.m., a stream of people entered the center off Green Street and began filling out applications or standing in line waiting to talk to company representatives.

Shannon Westbrooks of Gainesville was among those seeking work. She was eyeing jobs in the nursing and medical fields.

“I’m looking for stable employment instead of (temporary jobs),” she said. “I need ... a permanent position in a growing company that I can grow with.”

The Georgia Department of Labor’s Gainesville Area Employer Committee also was involved in putting on the event.

“People think that job expos are outdated, but they’re not,” said Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, who visited with employers and job seekers at the fair. “So many companies do a lot of online hiring and don’t actually talk to a person.

“This is one of those chances where you get to be face to face with somebody who is part of the hiring decision and you get the chance to make a good impression, which you can’t always do on a piece of paper.”

He also said applicants can make an impression with strong “soft skills,” or the ability to communicate effectively, and sometimes a better impression than someone with a better resume.

Lee Brown, a recruiter with MasTec Advanced Technologies, said the company was looking to hire 30 satellite technicians. MasTec Advanced Technologies is an installation and service company for DIRECTV.

Talking with applicants in person is a real bonus because “you see if they’re physically able to do the job” and can assess their communication skills, Brown said.

“You can see how they carry themselves and how they are dressed,” she said.

The Gainesville-based Georgia Mountains Regional Commission’s Workforce Development Career Coach also was at the event.

The coach helps area residents search and apply for jobs, write resumes and cover letters, and discern career interests, Mobile Training Unit Instructor Keith Krauth has said.

Overall, Butler said it was exciting to see such a buzz of activity.

“This is a lot different atmosphere than we had four years ago, when we had people struggling to find jobs,” he said. “And now, the tables have turned. We have employers who are having a little bit of a hard time finding exactly what they need.

“That’s a good problem to have but ...still just as serious as not having enough jobs.”

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