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Cautious optimism at job fair

Santa Clarita WorkSource Center’s event brings in 139 people seeking work

Posted: February 9, 2010 9:48 p.m.
Updated: February 10, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Out of a job for a few months, Ada Nobriga, 64, of Saugus, was one of 139 people who attended the monthly Job Fair at the Santa Clarita WorkSource Center on Tuesday morning.

 
Hanna Murrie listened patiently, nodding, as a Santa Clarita WorkSource Center employee told her that her three-page resume was too long.
The tall and poised professional, one of 139 people attending the center's monthly job fair Tuesday, took the comment in stride. She's given that advice before. Just seven months ago, Murrie was a human resources manager for a Los Angeles company with 130 employees.

She was laid off and has been looking for work since.

Usually, she tailors her resume to fit the job she's applying for, Murrie was quick to explain. But at a job fair, where she had the opportunity to meet with 13 companies, you don't know what you're going to apply for, she said. So she brought her master resume.

She left a copy at the tables for Goodwill Industries, Select Staffing and Antelope Valley's WorkSource Center.

This was Andrew Siarkowski's second job fair. Since the mechanics worker was laid off four days before Christmas, he said he's visited the WorkSource Center two or three times a week.

He cruised past the Subway and Quiznos tables in the packed space in Canyon Country. He stopped at the Valley Crest Landscaping and IQ Personnel Environmental Staffing booths. He took an application from the city of Santa Clarita, which was looking to hire a graffiti remover.

Not everyone was as selective as Murrie and Siarkowski.

Ignacia Bernal paused to count on her fingers the number of months she's been unemployed: seven.

"Work for the factory, Vallarta (Supermarket) ... Everything," she said. "But no, no good."

Electrician Mark Perez said he'd do anything he can. He has a wife and two kids.

Murrie said a lot has changed since she was the one screening job seekers.

"I'm very surprised by how much more aggressive you have to be," Murrie said. At her old job, she would be annoyed when someone called to follow up after sending their resume.

"Now, you have to call," she said.

In Santa Clarita, there were 6,500 unemployed workers in December, state data indicates. That's 7.4 percent.

While that's below state and county averages, it's well above Santa Clarita's historic unemployment rate of 2 to 3 percent. January's job fair brought 200 valley residents, city staff said, their highest since starting the event in September.

Murrie and Siarkowski were cautiously optimistic about the contacts they made yesterday.

"It might look good but I'm not going to get my hopes up," Siarkowski said.

Murrie said she has a better understanding of her field now.

"I'm on the other side of that desk now," Murrie said. "I know that empathy is so important. Now I understand what it means to go ahead and take that person's resume even if you don't have a position for them at the moment."

That small act gives job seekers some hope, she said. But not much.

"Now I won't hear back," Murrie said with a been-here-before smile. She paused, brushing her side-swept bangs. Then: "I know it's all about having a positive attitude, and knowing something will work out."

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