Hopeful Job Seekers Pack Orange County Job Fair

By Toni Vranjes

June 17, 2011

Rhonda Williams walked by the storefronts at the Anaheim GardenWalk on Wednesday, in search of a new career opportunity.

Her goal: to find a full-time marketing communications job. Although she’s been doing some consulting work, she wants to find a steady position.

“It’s just been kind of sporadic, and I’m looking to get back into full-time employment,” said Williams, who lives in Aliso Viejo.

Eventually, she joined a long line of people waiting to get into a pavilion to speak with employers. All of them had come to the outdoor mall for the 3rd annual Anaheim/OC Job Fair. The free event drew an estimated 6,000 job seekers.

Rhonda Williams (middle) waits in line at the Anaheim job fair.

“The goal is to put those families in need of jobs back to work,” said Russell Lahodny, spokesman for the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, one of the sponsors.

The event featured 130 employers, including the Disneyland Resort, the Hilton Anaheim, Kaiser Permanente, Prudential Financial, The Home Depot, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, Wells Fargo, the California Highway Patrol, and the U.S. Army.

Luis Frausto, a representative for AT&T, said the company was trying to fill about 10 positions in home-entertainment sales. “It’s a position where you need to sell yourself, so we need to make sure we find the right people,” he said.

The job fair was spread among three pavilions, which were filled with hopeful job seekers going from booth to booth. The event also featured career workshops and a resume-review service.

“This event is a great way to connect businesses with those people out there who are looking,” Lahodny added.

Last year, about 6,800 job seekers attended, and 22 percent of them landed a job interview. About a quarter of the interviews resulted in a job.

Job seekers at the Anaheim job fair.

At this year’s job fair, Garden Grove resident Fatima Jasso was hoping she would be one of the fortunate ones who got hired. She has held many different types of jobs, including preschool teacher. But she’s been unemployed for six months and needs to find work. She planned to visit the booths of many employers, including Orange County Head Start, the Disneyland Resort, and the Hilton Anaheim. However, she said she would take whatever she could find.

“I’m looking for anything,” Jasso said.

Williams, meanwhile, tried to find opportunities in her field. She spoke with several companies, but she said the types of jobs that were available didn’t fit her background. Although she found one company that’s trying to fill a marketing communications job, the position requires aerospace and defense experience, which she doesn’t have.

As she continues her search, Williams plans to use job aggregators and attend networking events that are more suited to her background and experience level. Although she says the job search is frustrating, she’s confident that the right opportunity will come along eventually.

“At some point, I will find a full-time gig again,” she said.

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