By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
More than 400 people looking for jobs or switching careers got leads and free advice in Rancho Bernardo.
San Diego North Chamber of Commerce’s Jan. 24 career fair and professional growth workshops included 18 companies and expert advice on résumé writing, professional clothing, interview preparation and job searching via social media.
“The résumé review was very beneficial,” said Gloria Mercier, a Rancho Bernardan with executive and administrative assistance experience.
Mercier said she was part of a massive layoff in June due to her former employer’s budget deficit. While open to all sizes of companies, she prefers an established mid-level company. “I want the stability ... of one that has made it through the economy,” she said.
Mercier, a first-time career fair attendee, said she has been mostly looking for jobs online, a process she called “very tedious.”
Theo Young from the Los Angeles area said he learned about the career fair while looking for job openings at General Atomics, one of the participating companies.
Young said he has been looking for “a stable career” for 18 months and would consider a move to San Diego. He is most interested in the aerospace industry because he could apply his technical and mechanical experience gained while in the Air Force, but is open to employers at the fair like U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.
Though not on active duty for 10 years — he is in the reserves — Young said it is difficult to translate his military experience and skills into something civilian employers understand.
Paul Pena, human resources supervisor at Harrah’s Rincon Casino and Resort, said there were 20 openings that day, but Harrah’s is planning to hire more because of its upcoming expansion.
“We have jobs open in everything, including hotel, restaurant, marketing and finance,” Pena said. “We’re constantly on the lookout for culinary positions ... and casino operations.”
The latter he said includes dealers with and without experience. “We have our own school and will train the right person with a great personality.”
Pena said career fairs are “hit or miss” and he was “pleasantly surprised” by how busy this fair was and the résumés he was receiving. Applicants not right for an open position now are entered in a databank to be notified about future openings.
Rose McLoughlin, a Job Options Inc. recruiter, said her nonprofit company specializes in hiring those with disabilities to work at military installations, resorts and government facilities from Otay Mesa to San Bernardino. Jobs include shelving stock at commissaries, in warehouses and custodial work.
McLoughlin said most people she spoke with do not meet the disability qualifications, but might be able to refer a family member or neighbor. Disability must be documented and includes psychiatric, developmental/learning, physical, hearing impaired and substance abuse.
Richard Amezcua, a recruiter for the U.S. Border Patrol San Diego sector, said most openings are in law enforcement, but some in administration and mission support. He was directing people to the usajobs.gov website since the application process is all online, but said participating in the fair was important because a lot of questions cannot be answered online.
“Some want to know the personal side and experiences we have,” Amezcua said. “That sparks an interest.”
As for the fair, Danielle Ehrlich, SDNCC events manager, said “One of the chamber’s main focus in 2013 is North County’s workforce development. We are proud to bring together employees and North County employers to fill vacant positions and expand our region.”
Participating companies were Aflac, ARS National, Defense Contract Audit Agency, EDD, General Atomics, Goodwill Industries of San Diego, Harrah’s Rincon Casino and Resort, ITT Tech, Job Options Inc., National University, Poway Chamber of Commerce, Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, Sedona Staffing, Take Shape for Life, The Elizabeth Hospice, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.