An estimated 1,200 to 1,300 job seekers crowded into the Lenoir Community College gymnasium on Wednesday to meet with about 130 employers during the college’s annual job fair.
“Our employers were very pleased, and that’s the main thing we try to do. … I think that a lot of students got to see human resources people they would normally just be sending resumes to,” said Frances Gaskins, LCC’s director of cooperative education and job placement.
The college, and the N.C. JobLink Career Center based at LCC, sponsored the job fair.
Gaskins said 128 employers were signed up, and a few more came at the last minute.
One of the most popular employers who had signed up was Sanderson Farms.
The Mississippi poultry firm opened its Kinston processing plant earlier this year, and applicants were lined up outside the gym doors for a chance to land a job.
“I’ve been trying to get with them for a couple of months now, driving trucks,” the Rev. Donnie Dixon of Grifton said of Sanderson. “But I found this opportunity, so I decided to come on out and take it.”
Dixon is pastor for Giving and Adding a Hand Ministries of Goldsboro, an unpaid position.
“I don’t do it for the money,” he said of leading the Wayne County ministry.
Manny Moreno, second shift personnel supervisor at the plant, scheduled one person after another for job interviews next week. Sanderson is looking to fill hundreds of positions on its second shift.
He encouraged applicants who might screen their calls to pick up the phone when Sanderson calls, because with the high volume, they will not call back or leave messages.
“We were really happy to come here to Kinston and help the economy out,” Moreno said.
Spirit AeroSystems, Lenoir County’s other newest industrial anchor, also saw heavy traffic at its job fair table.
“Just the fact that it’s aerospace, is what attracts a lot of people,” said Betty Brock, human resources generalist with Spirit.
LCC student Mark Grant of Kinston, who said he was interested in high-technology work, “beelined it” to Spirit’s table when he arrived.
“It’s the newest, highest-tech thing out here,” he said of Spirit.
Jay Repass of Kinston, who was laid off last April after 17 years in the finance sector, also visited Spirit.
“My resume screams finance, but I feel I can do pretty much anything administratively,” he said. “I’m willing to be more open, and I’m hoping employers will be.”
A variety of entities catered to the hundreds of job seekers, including government agencies, law enforcement, the U.S. military, small and large businesses, retail outlets, restaurants, health care businesses and others.
Yvonne Deatherage, director, mentor and coach for The Pampered Chef’s Kinston affiliate, said many were interested in giving in-home cooking demonstrations to supplement their income.
“I think people are interested because people can leave (home) four to eight times, and they can earn anywhere from $500 to $1500 a month,” she said.
John McPhaul, franchise owner of the Chick-fil-A on U.S. 70 West, said he is looking to increase his workforce for the spring and summer, especially with community college students.
Student Michael Cox of Deep Run said he though Chick-fil-A would be good part-time work for him.
“It’s new, I figured they’ve probably got things going (well) for them. . . . And they’ve got good food,” he said of the restaurant.
Irene Layne, chiropractic assistant for the Goldsboro Spine Center, said job fairs are effective venues for employers and applicants to connect, that attending a job fair “shows initiative.”
“I’ve worked at the office for about a year-and-a-half, and they found me at a job fair,” she said.
David Anderson can be reached at 252-559-1077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on finding a job locally, visit the JobLink Career Center at LCC; call 252-527-6223, ext. 104; or visit the Lenoir County ESC office, 2100 Presbyterian Lane, Kinston. You can reach the ESC office at 252-526-4435.