Job fair finds businesses hiring
May 28, 2011LITTLETON— The Littleton Department of Employment Security office held its spring job fair last Wednesday, highlighting the opportunities available for those on the job hunt. Upwards of 80 people turned out for the four-hour fair, which was attended by nine employers, representing almost one hundred positions.
"It's uncertainty," said Mike Gilman, Employee Service Representative at the Littleton branch of the New Hampshire Department of Employment Security. "That's the biggest disincentive to hire."
Gilman said most companies, even if they are doing well, are unsure of their economic futures due to unpredictable factors at the state, national, and international levels.
"They can only pass on so much until they become non-competitive," he noted.
Even with an uncertain economic future, there are businesses hiring. The largest employer at last week's event was the Mount Washington Hotel, which is heading into its summer season, and is looking to fill 45 positions. Though many of these positions are seasonal, said hotel representative Marie Griffin, there are always year-round positions open, such as buser or waitress, and seasonal positions can often be extended as long as employees are flexible about what they are doing.
The Mountain View Grand Hotel also manned a booth at the fair with similar needs to the Mount Washington. The Mountain View is looking to hire in numerous departments, from accounting to housekeeping.
Lowe's Human Resources Representative Beverly Anderson said the store is looking for "a friendly smile, someone who can offer excellent customer service." Lowe's, which employs roughly 130 at its Littleton location, is looking to fill positions in its garden and lumber departments mainly.
"It's a great place looking for a career," said Anderson. Lowe's is currently the fourth largest retailer in the country, and promotes based on merit, not seniority. Anderson added the company offers a great benefits package.
Two local staffing agencies were looking to recruit at the fair. All Staff, based in Littleton, specializes in light industrial, engineering, factory/production, warehouse, administrative, secretarial, information technology, management, and purchasing.
"We staff positions that our clients want us to staff for," explained Office Administrator Brian Smith, which means the kinds of opportunities available can vary from week to week, from entry level on up.
The Leddy Group, another staffing and business consulting agency, is based in Lebanon. The group works across Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, but the Lebanon location focuses on western and northern New Hampshire, as well as eastern and northeastern Vermont. In Littleton, it is currently looking to fill at least a half dozen production jobs, said Regional Vice President Mary Gulbrandsen, though she noted the answer probably would have been different the week before.
Personal Touch Home Health Services had a very specific focus at the fair, looking for licensed nurses assistants (LNAs) to help provide home care across the North Country. Office Manager Marie Dubey said she received only one application at the fair that fulfilled the LNA requirement. The positions are part time, said Dubey, and available across the region.
Schwan's Home Service was at the fair looking to fill two route sales representative positions. Location General Manager Kevin Reeves said the ideal candidate would have sales skills, a clean background, a good driving record, and be willing to work hard. Reeves said he was pleased with the interest he found at the fair.
The National Guard was also represented at the event. The Guard's Corree Kinerson said requirements include an age cap of 35, and being able to pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). For young people, benefits to joining the National Guard include getting college paid for free, while for those with families, benefits include good health insurance. For anyone, added Kinderson, it is a chance to serve their country without giving up another job or all of their time.
Even with the unpredictable economic climate, Littleton is doing relatively well. The last data released by the New Hampshire Department of Employment Security had Littleton's unemployment rate at 4.3 percent for the month of March, down from 4.8 percent in February and 7 percent in March 2010. This is compared to a nine percent national rate, and a 5.2 percent state rate.
Surrounding towns boasting a lower unemployment rate include Lisbon at 4.1 percent, Lyman at 2.5 percent, and Sugar Hill at 3.2 percent. Surrounding towns with higher unemployment rates include Bethlehem at 5.8 percent, Haverhill at 6.4 percent, Landaff at 7.2 percent, and Bath at 4.4. percent.
The unemployment rate counts the number of individuals who are able to work, and who are actively searching for a job compared to the number of individuals who are working. The employed include anyone who works at least one hour for pay, and includes people who are temporarily absent from work due to illness, vacation, etc. The information for the national rate is collected through the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly survey conducted by the Census Bureau that polls 60,000 households per month on a rotating basis. The state rate uses the CPS' findings, but also current employment statistics data, and state unemployment insurance data. The CPS includes roughly 1,290 households in its calculations.
Reeve Dallas, of Bethlehem, has been sending out applications for two weeks looking for a new job with little success.
"This is an avenue that I haven't tried," said Dallas, who moved to the area from Lebanon because he preferred the way-of-life in the North Country. Lebanon has a three percent unemployment rate.
Jackie Pecor, of Lisbon, has had some luck looking in the newspapers and online. She has been on the job hunt for a few weeks since her position at Northway Bank was eliminated.
Wayne Reed, of Jefferson, has been looking for a job for a little more than a month. Jefferson's unemployment rate is at 7.2 percent. Reed worked as a sawyer for Perras lumber for 19 years.
"Now, there's so many people out there that have more experience than me, so no one gives me a chance," said Reed.
Reed said he doesn't have the computer skills that many people in the workforce have today.
"I could work at McDonald's, but I can't afford to work at McDonald's," he said.
Many of the employers at the fair noted the initiative it takes to come out to a job fair.
"It shows a real motivated person," said Anderson.
"It's not just persistence, it's attitude," said Gilman. "You need to believe in the product, which means you need to believe you can do the job."
The Department of Employment Security is planning another job fair for the fall.