Jobs and jobseekers both plentiful at Day-sponsored event in Groton
Groton — More than 250 jobseekers and scores of employers’ representatives crowded a conference room at the Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa on Wednesday, participants in an energetic job fair that suggested the local economy is stirring.
At the very least, the event — sponsored by The Day — demonstrated plenty of jobs are available.
Jaclyn Nardone, The Day’s marketing manager, said the 53 employers represented at the fair were the most she’s seen in eight years of organizing the semiannual events. She said she typically expects between 250 and 350 jobseekers, depending on the job market.
Over the years, the number of jobseekers has declined, a trend Nardone couldn’t quite explain.
“I will say that in more recent years the crowd has been on the older side,” she wrote in an email. “I'm not sure if that indicates that the younger generations would prefer to use social media and LinkedIn to find jobs.”
Christian Horstmann, an unemployed Lisbon resident with a background in marketing, made stops at several of the employers’ booths, including those manned by representatives of Mohegan Sun, Sheffield Pharmaceuticals of New London and Carwild Corp., a New London-based manufacturer of medical devices, which he said he definitely planned to follow up with.
“It’s a half-hour from where I live, the pay’s decent,” he said.
Horstmann said he’s been out of work “since a year into COVID,” and had recently gotten married and moved from Philadelphia to Connecticut. His wife works in the arts in Lyme.
“I thought I should put a tie on and come here,” he said, having seen ads for the job fair. “If I end up with something completely different (than marketing) and that pays less money, that’s OK. I need to work.”
Tamela Higgins, a human resources manager at Chelsea Groton Bank, said Wednesday’s turnout of jobseekers far exceeded the number at a job fair in the fall.
“People are more comfortable,” she said, without hazarding a guess as to why.
By noon, by which time the fair was two hours old, Chelsea Groton representatives had spoken to a half-dozen candidates, three of whom were potential hires, Higgins said.
Chelsea Groton has openings for tellers — as always, Higgins said — as well as in all other departments, including accounting, commercial lending and loan servicing. Multiple internships also are available.
Higgins said Chelsea Groton, like many other employers, has experienced “a lot” of resignations in the last couple of years for all kinds of reasons, including retirements, relocations and moves to new jobs in and out of banking.
John Lombardo, who identified himself as the outgoing manager of Saybrook Point Resort & Marina in Old Saybrook, also was encouraged by the job fair’s turnout. He said many in the hotel industry have struggled to fill positions, with some having to go so far as to turn down business due to staff shortages.
“Job fairs are a good thing," he said. "I encourage people to go to them and fill out an application even if the position they’re looking for isn’t available. I had someone looking for a night auditor position, which is pretty specific, and I told them we don’t have an opening right now but we might later. We'll have your application in our database.”
At the Sheffield Pharmaceuticals booth, Peter Niziolak, a quality assurance manager, and Anne Gonzalez, an accounting specialist, sought to educate jobseekers about the company, which is often associated with its best-known product, toothpaste. It also produces over-the-counter antibiotics and other products.
“We’re always looking to promote our brand and looking for new clients,” Niziolak said.
New London Public Schools, one of several school systems represented at the fair, was specifically looking for instructional assistants for special education and bilingual tutors, according to Margaret Bucaram, supervisor of English as a second language, bilingual and world languages.
Bucaram and Jill Karrenberg, the system’s coordinator of talent, recruitment and retention, said they were pleased with the turnout at the fair, noting they’d been approached by a highly qualified teacher who’d just moved to the area.
One of the employers with a booth at the fair was from outside the region — well outside the region.
“We need to expand our hiring,” said Erwin Rodrillo, a deputy with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office in San Jose, Calif. “We’re currently recruiting on the East Coast instead of having to fly candidates out to us. We’re looking for deputy sheriffs, correctional deputies ...”
He said deputy sheriffs earn up to $128,000 a year and correctional deputies up to $113,000.
“People are intrigued we’re here,” said Kristen Nostrand, another deputy.
She said they were encouraging people who showed interest in the sheriff's office to attend a hiring event later this month at John Jay College in New York City, where they can complete psychological testing and submit to a lie-detector test.