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More seekers, fewer jobs

Posted: October 8, 2008 8:19 p.m.
Updated: December 10, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Kalene Parker, of Canyon Country, strolls up and down looking for a future stable job at the job and career fair at College of the Canyons' Canyon Country campus Wednesday morning. As a result of budget cuts, Parker was laid off last June from her job as a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

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While young college students left Wednesday's Career Fair feeling hopeful about job prospects, many unemployed adults went home disappointed.

"Some employers are not even taking resumes," said Kalene Parker, a Canyon Country resident dressed in brown, plaid business attire as she held a red umbrella to block the sun in one hand, and her business portfolio in the other. "You have to go home and apply online and not everyone has specific information."

Parker, who has a master's degree in Dramatic Arts, appreciates the easy online access to job applications, but is frustrated over attending a job fair where employers don't seem to appreciate her qualifications.

"I just came out of foreclosure, and I'm close to going back into default," said Parker. "At this point, I'm just looking for something that fits my financial needs,"

Parker was one of many unemployed adults at the fair hunting for whatever employment they could get.

"My company went broke around April and I haven't been able to find a job," said Mark Hinsey, 58, of Santa Clarita who graduated with an associate's degree in computer networking as valedictorian in June.

Hinsey, like many at the fair, blamed the downturn in the economy for the attendance of so many older job seekers at the fair.

"I can tell by the quality of people here in suits and ties who have never been here before," said Hinsey, wearing his own business suit and blue tie. "I don't particularly like this job fair.

"There are not enough employers and many will only take applications online. So why come? Companies should at least put someone in here who can make hiring decisions."

But Anthony Michaelides, director of COC's Career Services, believes the older attendees who left unsatisfied are unaware of the changing nature of job fairs.

"They should see the other side of it," he said. "They got to meet someone from a company, then can go online and already know the openings available. Everything is done over the Internet now."

Many companies come to the job fair to let job seekers know they are hiring, let them know what positions are available and then let them know how to apply online, he said.

Then job seekers can grab a business card, go home, e-mail that employer and say, "Hey, I met you at the job fair," to have an edge, Michaelides said. "You couldn't do that if you were just searching the web."

Students were more enthusiastic.

"I'm a little hopeful," said Saul Alvarez, 24, who is taking an astronomy class at COC. "I currently have a part-time job that reduced my hours from 30 to 10. I think because of a lack of sales and the economy, they told the whole store they were reducing hours."

"You need a base to be comfortable in your own skin," said Will Lang, a 24 year-old COC student. "Here you get to talk to some people face-to-face."

In dress shirts, slacks and ties, Alvarez and Lang stood out from most students wearing jeans and backpacks.

COC hosted a workshop on how to dress for a job fair, and Michaelides said he saw more community members dressed professionally.

"I think it speaks to the economy," he said. "They're serious. They need a job."

Overall, Michaelides was happy with the turnout at the campus's first job fair, which hosted 42 employers.

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