Target job fair draws a big crowd

Staff for expanded store sought at Vancouver event

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor

Published:

 

If you advertise jobs with no experience required, they will come.

That seemed to be the story playing out Thursday morning at the Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay, where Minnesota-based retailer Target opened a two-day job fair to expand and replenish staff at its store across the Columbia River on Portland's Hayden Island.

By 10 a.m., one hour after the fair's opening, the hotel's lobby was crowded with job seekers who filled the lobby's chairs, leaned against walls, or sat on the floor waiting for their names to be called. By day's end, 150 applicants had been interviewed. And there was still all day Friday to go.

"This is more walk-ins than we expected," said Amy Philip, manager of the Jantzen Beach store, now closed temporarily for reconstruction. About 100 applicants had pre-registered for interviews over the two days, she said.

Philip said the Jantzen Beach store will have 175 to 200 employees, called team members, when it reopens in mid-October. That's close to double the staff of the old Target store, which closed in early June and was demolished as part of a larger $50 million makeover of the Jantzen Beach mall.

More workers are needed, Philips said, because of the store's larger size and its expanded retail offerings, which will include fresh food, a pharmacy, and a Starbucks. At 138,000 square feet, the new Target store will be slightly larger than most Target stores.

Almost half the new store's staff will be workers who had previously worked at the Jantzen Beach location, Philips said. Those employees who remained with the company were given the option of taking the summer off, with benefits, or transferring temporarily to another store with open positions. Some workers transferred as far away as Texas or New York for brief stints away from home, she said.

Many of the jobs now open will offer pay barely above minimum wage, but others are middle-management positions at a higher pay scale. Applicants need not have retail experience for an entry-level job, she said, but must show an ability to embrace Target's culture of providing strong service to customers, called guests. "It's all about teamwork and guest service," she said.

At the Quay, Target brought in about 60 staff members, called helpers, to work through the interviews. But the size of the crowd was daunting even with that much help. Some job seekers who arrived early Thursday were scheduled for interviews two hours out.

Philips said this week's applicants should hear within two weeks whether they'll be offered jobs. The retailer will continue to accept applications into September.