Job Fair draws crowd in Marietta

MARIETTA – Employers are on the hunt for top local talent and say they are impressed with the experience of area job seekers at The Marietta Times Job Fair on Wednesday.

Local companies are hiring and turned out en masse to talk to the local workforce, accept resumes and network with applicants at the job fair that ran from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the grand ballroom at the Lafayette Hotel.

“This is a great event for us to get to meet the local applicants and build a pool of talent to choose from,” said Olivia Morrison, human resources assistant for Healthsouth. “Specifically we are in need of rehabilitation nurses and technicians, so that is a big focus for our search today.”

More than 30 companies participated in the job fair, including employers such as Marietta Memorial Hospital, Camden Clark Medical Center, Exel/DuPont, Alliance Industries and Westbrook.

The event was well attended by applicants as well, with more than 50 job seekers already visiting employer booths when the event opened at 11 a.m. and a projected attendance of up to 500 applicants throughout the day. The job fair was sponsored by The Marietta Times and The Lafayette Hotel.

For some area businesses, this event marks an important strategy in their staffing plans. Marilyn Lipps, human resources supervisor for ParMar Stores, said job fairs allow her to meet a wide variety of people that may fit into a number of current job openings.

“ParMar stands for Parkersburg and Marietta, so we are a local business that looks for local applicants to fill a variety of needs for our stores,” said Lipps. “We have positions that are part time, full time and even seasonal. Our opportunities are pretty broad and allow applicants to fit the job into their needs.”

Businesses from a variety of industries were represented, including health care, construction, warehousing and logistics, as well as education.

This came as good news to local applicants like Jake Zide, a job seeker from Williamstown, who said he was not looking for a job but interested in career development and learning how to perform an effective job hunt.

“As I build my career, I just want to be able to interact with employers on a more professional level,” said Zide. “This event is nice because of the number of industries represented and the size of the companies I can talk with.”

Other applicants were more concerned with walking away with employment, and cite the recent decrease in oil prices as a significant driver for their visit to the job fair.

“I was a heavy equipment operator in oil and gas, but after things slowed down (in the oilfield) I lost my job,” says Grant McClay of Marietta. “Now I am interested in finding warehousing work or something similar where I can use my equipment skills.”

Ohio’s unemployment rate of 5.1 percent is slightly higher than the national average of 5 percent as of March, yet Washington County has the 17th highest rate of unemployment of the state’s 88 counties, coming in at 7.6 percent. This varies from April of last year when the rate was 5.2 percent and from the 6.1 percent rate at the end of December.

That may be a trend that is changing, according to a U.S. Census report produced earlier this year that cites a 1.6 percent rise in employment for the area. In a separate report by the U.S. Department of Labor, areas south of Columbus saw a 4 percent increase in the number of employees on payrolls since 2013.

“We are seeing a stable trend of hiring in a variety of jobs and right now we are looking for both warehouse workers and dispatchers,” said Amy Gore, operations manager of Chemical and Energy in the Americas for Exel/DHL. “We do all on-the-job training and our benefits are very nice as well, with full packages for insurance and 401K.”

The job fair was more than just a place to look for open positions as it included representatives from American National University, who said they were as interested in talking about their educational programs as they were in working with job applicants.

“We are here to serve full- and part-time students, as well as job seekers who are interested in developing their skills,” said Sarah Miller, admissions representative for American National University. “It is a great event and we were very pleased with the turnout.”

Other employers shared the same sentiment and said they hope it is even bigger next year.

“This job fair was a huge success for us because we were able to promote some of our positions that are currently open and talk directly with applicants in the area,” said Stacy Parks, Workforce Development specialist for the Memorial Health System. “We will absolutely come back next year.”