Herrera Beutler job fair draws 850

Those seeking work could meet with 50-plus prospective employers

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

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Roughly 850 job seekers showed up in downtown Vancouver on Wednesday afternoon to sample potential offerings from more than 50 prospective employers. Some job seekers wore suits; others looked more casual. Some seemed to stop by nearly every booth, while others sought out a few employers in particular.

For more information

Here's a full list of the employers who attended the job fair on Wednesday and some of their open positions.

The event took place at the Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay, and employers included those in the manufacturing, military, health care, real estate and education sectors, to name a few. Job training experts also were on hand to go over résumés and provide interview tips.

The job fair, organized by U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, took place one day after the region's economist announced some good news about the job market.

Clark County's economy added 1,800 jobs in the 12

months through April. The county's jobless rate for April was a preliminary 9 percent, but that number could bump up to about 11 percent once other factors are calculated.

Tyson Jones, 37, was at the job fair to get a sense of who's hiring in the area. He just graduated this spring from Washington State University Vancouver with a degree in supply chain management.

Two years ago, Jones found himself jobless after the Toyota plant he worked at in Fremont, Calif., shut down. He had worked for Toyota for 15 years.

He decided to go to school to increase his chances of finding work, but now he said he worries that he might not have picked the best new career path.

"There's a lot of qualified people," Jones said, but many employers at the fair are "just looking for certain niche things."

Still, Jones remained optimistic.

"I'll find something," he said.

Christine Eagon and Nancy Elkinton of the Vancouver Public Schools' Gateway to Adult Transition Education program attended the job fair with a few students who would soon enter the job market. GATE helps students with substantial learning or physical disabilities transition to adulthood.

The students had résumés in hand and had practiced their "60 second commercial" or elevator speech, Elkinton said. "They do a little self-bragging."

She said the students in the program often apply to jobs online, but online applications can have expiration dates. It's good to keep applications current, meet employers in person whenever possible, and always send a thank-you card after meeting them, Elkinton added.

Sharon Jutila, human resources director at property management company The Management Group, reiterated the benefit of an in-person connection with applicants.

"You get a chance to actually see folks," Jutila said. She added that qualified job candidates can even schedule an interview with her at the fair.

On Wednesday, her company was advertising eight job openings, four of which were new jobs rather than vacancies to fill. A few of their job openings were entry-level positions while others demanded some experience.

Jutila said the company posts all of its job openings on Craigslist and other job sites.

Representatives from Goodwill's Job Connection program also attended the job fair. By mid-afternoon, they had 35 people signed up to receive a callback for an orientation. Job Connection provides people who have barriers to employment, such as a criminal record or disability, with resources and job-search tips.

Locally, the program works with 50 to 100 job seekers each week, said Ron Rittenhouse, an employment specialist with Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette.

"They just feel so all alone in the process," Rittenhouse said. "It's kind of like an elephant on your shoulders."

He said the program can help keep longtime job seekers motivated.

"You're not the only person who worries about this," Rittenhouse said. "You're not alone. Take heart. Get back in the game."

This is the second job fair hosted by Herrera Beutler. She hosted another at the Red Lion in September, and that event drew a crowd of about 1,700. Of those, at least 30 landed a job, although that number could be higher because not all employers at the fair kept track of who they hired from the fair, said Herrera Beutler's spokesman, Casey Bowman.

During the job fair Wednesday, Herrera Beutler noted the smaller turnout, but said the previous job fair might have drawn more people because it was her first. She also said she was happy to see the unemployment rate decreasing in her district.

"It'd be nice to not have a need for something like this," she said.

Stevie Mathieu:360-735-4523 or stevie.mathieu@columbian.com or www.facebook.com/reportermathieu or www.twitter.com/col_politics.