60 employers lined up for Tuesday run

Published 12:30 am Sunday, August 1, 2010

When Mary M. Ray found herself among the growing number of unemployed in Warren County after being laid off from Ameristar Casino two years ago, she worried about how long she could go without a paycheck. When a friend suggested she check out the Vicksburg Area Job Fair, she was skeptical at first.

“I had never been to a job fair before,” the 59-year-old Ray admitted. “But it was encouraging to see that Vicksburg was supporting people who are trying to find jobs.”

Ray interviewed with a number of area employers at the 2008 job fair, including Riverwalk Casino, which was then preparing to open as the city’s fifth casino. She started working at the casino a few months later and now is the group sales coordinator for Riverwalk.

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This Tuesday, locals seeking work will have the opportunity to talk to roughly 60 employers who are expected to be stationed at the 2010 Vicksburg Area Job Fair, the 13th annual program for the unemployed or those seeking new jobs.

“On no other day can someone walk in and have 60 employers in one place. We cut through all the red tape that a person looking for a job usually has to go through,” said job fair director Joe Buckner of the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. “On this day, you just get dressed, walk in and look for a job.”

Despite the ongoing economic recession, roughly the same number of employers will be at this year’s fair as last year’s. Buckner said the majority of participating employers are looking to make hires, but noted the competition among prospective employees is also going to be high.

“The jobs are still there, they’re just harder to get,” he said.

Last year, when the local unemployment rate was 10.4 percent, more than 2,000 people attended the job fair. Unemployment rates in June this year reached 11.6 percent, among the highest it’s been over the past five years. So, simply showing up to the job fair isn’t enough to actually find work, Buckner said.

“You need to come marketing your skills and creating a strong first impression,” he said. “The majority of the businesses there will be looking for people to hire, not just potential workers for later.”