30 find work through Herrera Beutler's job fair

Despite 1.8% hire rate, congresswoman plans similar events

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

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Thirty of 1,700 job seekers were hired after attending a Vancouver job fair last month organized by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas.

And although jobs went to just 1.8 percent of candidates, the congresswoman said she plans to hold more job fairs in the future, according to a written statement issued Tuesday. Interviews were granted to 217 job seekers, or 12.8 percent of the people who showed up and waited in line to file past the 70 prospective employers that participated. The event was held at the Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay on Sept. 28.

By contrast, New Seasons Market hired 6.9 percent, or 107, of the 1,600 applicants who attended a Sept. 23 event to staff the Portland-based organic grocer’s new Vancouver store, opening in November.

Approximately 21,980 Clark County residents were unemployed and looking for work in August, the most recent figures issued by the Washington state Employment Security Department.

Experts say the odds are slim of finding employment through a job fair, according to an Associated Press article published this month.

Job fairs scored lowest in a survey of human resources executives asked about job-search methods in 2009. Many employers said few of the people who show up at job fairs have the specific skills they’re looking for.

That wasn’t the case for at least one employer who participated in Herrera Beutler’s job fair, according to a written statement issued by Herrera Beutler’s office.

Paul Johnson of Vancouver-based Applied Motion Systems said his company hired an engineer at the hiring event.

“We were surprised to find a suitable candidate there,” Johnson said in the written statement.

Despite the low number of hires from the event, two other employers called the job fair a success in the press release issued by the Congresswoman’s office.

A call to Herrera Beutler’s office was not returned Tuesday afternoon.

Hosting job fairs appears to be part of a trend among U.S. representatives across the country.

Similar events have been hosted recently by Republican Congressmen Richard Hanna of New York, Ed Royce of California and Reid Ribble of Wisconsin.

Herrera Beutler was sworn in last January, after defeating Democrat Denny Heck one year ago in November.

“I’ll continue to do everything I can to get folks in this region back to work,” Herrera Beutler vowed. “And my efforts will definitely include holding more jobs fairs.”

Editor's note: This story has been modified to reflect a correction. The state offices that tracks employment numbers is the Washington state Employment Security Department.