Employers at jobs fair are looking, few hiring HIGH HOPES, LOW PROSPECTS


Pamela Hairston and Susan Rembecki are college graduates who have moved back home because they are unable to find jobs.

The young women, both 22, were among those who strolled through a job fair today at the Towson Center of Towson State University, resumes in hand, hoping that today might just be their lucky day.

"Sometimes I get worried," said Hairston, a June graduate of the University of Maryland Baltimore County who recently got an offer for a federal government computer job but was told she could not start working because of a hiring freeze.

Wearing a dark dressed-for-success suit and a string of pearls, Hairston was in a line of 20 people waiting to speak with recruiters from the Federal Reserve Bank who were accepting resumes and offering little more than a friendly handshake.

"With all the work I have done in college, I don't want it to be a waste," she said. "With the recession that has occurred, it has become more difficult for everyone to look for a job. But I remain hopeful, I feel I have a skill that can be marketable."

Rembecki got up early to drive to Towson from her home in Reading, Pa. She heard of the annual job fair from her sister, who is a student at TSU.

"At this point, I'm willing to do anything," Rembecki said.

An April graduate of Radford University in Radford, Va., Rembecki says she is discouraged.

"It has been really hard. For most of the jobs I've applied for, the people say there have been 300 resumes that have come in at one time. I don't have any contacts, so I'm starting at square one."

Rembecki, a journalism and public relations major, is volunteering for a charitable organization part time.

She said she sometimes feels that being hired to work at what she wants to do -- plan special events and serve as a fund-raiser -- is a pipe dream. The support of her family keeps her going, she said.

"With the recession, most people are being laid off and not hired," she said. "So it causes a problem for us [recent graduates] because I don't have any experience and I'm going for jobs against people who have experience, and they get hired. But I figure that there is somebody out there -- there has to be. I can't be negative about this."

The director of the job fair, Francis J. LeMire, Towson State's director of career placement, said 121 employers set up booths this year. He expected that 2,200 job-seekers of all ages would wander through the fair, scheduled to end at 5 p.m.

LeMire said that because of the recession few companies have immediate openings but are interested in identifying entry-level employees for when the economy improves.

"Some employers are looking for good people even though they don't have openings," LeMire said.

Van Henderson, a recruiter for AT&T;, was filling up a box with resumes. He said his company is downsizing with the economic slowdown, but has positions available for technical workers and engineers.

Jonathan Maule, a job recruiter for K-Mart, said he could offer some $22,000 retail management training jobs in K-Mart stores -- but not until next year. He, too, was piling resumes in a box.

But health-care recruiters were offering immediate opportunities.

"We're always going to have old, sick people," said Maura Shea, a human resources director for Manor Care, a corporation that owns nursing homes. "We are hoping that nurses will be coming out of the woodwork. We like to believe we are recession-proof."

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