Thursday, March 18, 2010
Looking for work
By SUE WATSON
More than 600 job seekers turned out March 4 for the chance to go face-to-face with an employer and find a new job.
The Marshall/Benton Area Job Fair drew 39 employers and people were offered jobs or hired on the spot.
Joe Meeker of Byhalia, a man with a work history in sales, said he has been on and off work since the summer of 2008 when his industrial business sales job, which was pretty solid, went away. He has had jobs since then and he has been laid off or had to give them up depending on circumstances. His wife, Zarina, has kept her job.
“The last company I worked for in sales was in 2009,” he said. “I was working for a small print company in Memphis last year and they let three of us go in the space of about a month.”
Since that lay-off, Meeker has had two more jobs, the first with a company that changes air filters.
“I was gone all the time - three weeks out of a month,” he said. “I would leave early on Monday and come back late on Friday. Then my mother became ill. As much as I hated to, I very reluctantly had to resign.”
Meeker is working as an assistant technician and in accounts payable for an HVAC company that does residential heat and air.
At 45, he is still optimistic even though the job market “is frustrating.”
“That’s the biggest thing,” he said. “It’s just been unstable the last two and a half years when the economy started to slide. Now you have to have a four-year degree for lots of sales jobs.”
The way people apply for jobs is changing, too, he said.
Meeker is not a quitter, he said.
“Lots of famous people have been failures in their lives, but you don’t fail,” he said. “You can’t be a quitter. Thomas Edison, who invented the light bulb, went through thousands of prototypes before he got it right. Hershey failed twice in the candy business.”
Susan Kenny and her sister Janie Terrell were also looking for a job after the two learned the uniform store they worked for is closing.
She’s from the Barton community and it was her first time at a job fair.
Kenny has had several jobs in the area of business bookkeeping with the uniform company and also with the school district.
Kenny was keeping all the books for C&L, which has four uniform stores, and was running one of the stores with her sister. When she learned her company was laying off she started looking for a job immediately. It was her first time to experience a lay-off and she has been working and going to school since 1998. She’s still working to complete her degree in accounting, is a mother with four children at home and a homemaker, too.
Kenny said she feels uncertain but is OK about looking for work. She and her sister Janie had smiles on their faces while they visited employer booths.
Darlene Grimes, with the Northeast Mississippi Planning and Development District, was helping with the job fair when she had a very unusual and rewarding experience.
“I was in the hospitality suite working and a representative for Primerica brought in a prospective employee and wanted a quiet place to sit and talk,” Grimes said.
“She had driven down from Memphis, and he got up and went out to his car to get some papers. It was the first time I had seen somebody hired on the spot.
“He walked out to get his paperwork and I turned to her and said, he just hired you, didn’t he? She said, ‘Yes, ma’am.’ ”
The Marshall/Benton Area Job fair was co-sponsored by Rust College, Three Rivers Planning and Development District, Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce, Marshall and Benton county boards of supervisors, City of Holly Springs, Town of Byhalia, Catholic Social Services, Bank of Holly Springs, Citizens Bank, First State Bank, Merchant and Farmers Bank, Northeast Planning and Development District, Northwest Community College, Northcentral Electric Power Association, South Reporter, Mississippi Chronicle, BDC Consultant-Marshall County Workforce, and Alliance HealthCare.
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