Job fair attracts hundreds in Groton

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Groton — The Fall 2018 Job Fair at Mystic Marriott attracted a steady stream of job seekers Monday.

With unemployment down nationally and in Connecticut, it was hard to predict how many people would show up to the job fair, said Richard Zesk, an advertising manager for The Day, which sponsored the free event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. And while there were no lines out the door as occurred in tough economic times a decade or so ago, he said 300 people had been counted by lunchtime and he predicted between 500 and 600 would visit by the end of the event.

"It's been a very steady stream all day," he said.

Ralph Watson, human resources director for the Bozrah manufacturer Collins & Jewell, was enthusiastic about the job fair, saying he met with two excellent candidates for open welding jobs at the company right out of the gate.

"If even one of those guys gets hired, it's been well worth it," Watson said.

"It's been an excellent turnout," agreed Sarah Richardson, employee services representative for Big Y supermarkets, "one of the better ones I've been to."

Big Y, which has stores locally in Old Lyme, Mystic, Groton and Old Saybrook, needs to fill a wide variety of part-time and full-time positions at a new store in Marlborough.

Daniel J. Musser, district leader for the Primerica financial services firm, was looking for people with sales experience.

"It's a good venue," he said.

Musser said his company does a lot of training and therefore is happy to hire people with a wide variety of backgrounds, including food services and teaching. He had a stack of resumes at his table from people interested in being part of the company.

Joe Walker of Stonington, a job seeker, said he is employed by a local contractor but was looking to get rigging work at Electric Boat. Unfortunately, EB wasn't hiring in that department, he said, so he is looking for other steady work to support his two children.

Another job seeker, James MacDonald of Old Lyme, said he also had hoped to latch on at EB but the company apparently didn't have a need for software engineering, which is his expertise.

With nearly 50 booths set up by local and state companies, job seekers had a lot to choose from. But the biggest category of hiring at this job fair was in the health care field, with 10 companies boosting their career opportunities.

"We've seen a lot of resumes, a lot of positive people," said Stacey Hayden, onboarding specialist for Masonicare in Mystic, which is seeking five to 10 staff and nursing positions.

Andy Russell, vice president and general manager of local radio station owner Hall Communications, said he enjoyed the vibe of the event and the ability to chat with listeners about the company. He was looking for a few more salespeople at the station.

"We've had a few good prospects," he said.

Zesk, the event organizer, said the ability of job seekers to actually chat with decision makers at local companies is one of the little-known benefits of the job fair.

"Here you have a chance to be interviewed right here, face to face," he said. "With a lot of hiring online now, it's a real opportunity."

l.howard@theday.com

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