Nearly 200 job seekers flocked to a job fair hosted by National Career Fairs at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Bala Cynwyd on Monday.
Representatives from the Philadelphia Police Department, Six Flags, and local radio station WRTI were among 15 companies in attendance making their recruiting pitches to potential employees.
National Career Fairs is a small Nevada based company that hosts more than 500 jobs fairs throughout the country every year, allowing employers and educational institutions to meet face-to-face with job seekers. The company hosts anywhere from 12 to 16 fairs in the Philadelphia region every year.
Human resources recruiter for Six Flags in Jackson, N.J. Hannah Thompson had what appeared to be the most peculiar task of all recruiters in attendance: finding ghouls.
"Right now we're looking for actors or dancers -- no experience required -- to be one of our ghouls, dress up in crazy make-up and run around scaring people for fun and get paid for it. It's pretty cool," Thompson said.
She added that Six Flags also has other positions available in its rides, games and retail security departments and that the company, which typically hires about 4,000 people each park season, is the largest employer in Ocean county.
"We just wanted to get our name out to let everybody know that we're here and we're hiring. A lot of people don't know we host our auditions in the summertime, but Fright Fest starts in September so we start recruiting early," she said.
"We hire, we really do. Our application process is online so I can't perform an interview here on the spot but we'll contact them. We try to call about 100 people per day at minimum, many of those who have expressed interest at job fairs."
The Philadelphia Police Department had two officers from its recruiting unit on site at the fair. Officer Samuel Cruz said they met a good amount of qualified candidates.
"We met some good candidates today. Per month we do about 10-15 job fairs in the area. We do online recruitment also, but we do job fairs to make sure we get the word out there," Cruz said.
"This is definitely gonna help us spread the word that we are actively recruiting," Officer Tony Woo said.
All of the organizations were required to pay a hefty $500 booth fee in order to participate in the fair. But education partner at Kaplan Career Institute Diane Lynch said purchasing a booth at a fair definitely has its advantages.
"This is actually cheaper than us advertising and we get to meet the candidates first hand. I get to talk with them and find out what their skill set might be, what their passion might be and I can hopefully get them in for a career consultation. We want to get them to come out to the campus, see the facility first hand, and it might be a win-win situation," Lynch said.
The fair drew a diverse group of job seekers, some who found the event disappointing, and others who found it inspiring.
Marqueysha Williams, 24, is a junior at Temple University. Williams says she was drawn to the fair in search of part-time work in marketing, but found the fair to be heavily laden with sales positions.
"I think it should be like a broader pool of employers, not just people trying to get you to sell stuff. I'm not really into sales. I think a lot of job fairs are about sales. I'm not interested in the institutes or anything like that either so not a lot of luck for me today," Williams said.
"I don't think a lot of people are interested in sales, because you have to work super, super hard to make decent money. I was looking for something part time for now but nothing like this. This was like, oh gosh, discouraging."
Louis Terry, a 55-year old therapist from Roxborough has been out of work for two years, but said she may have found new hope at today's fair.
"I'm a therapist so my field is social services and there was not a one in there, and I knew that before I came. I've been thinking I might just need a change in my career because I'm not getting hired," Terry said.
Terry says she was laid off two years ago and recently began searching more actively for a new job but found that many employers felt she had too much experience. After visiting the fair, Terry said she was optimistic about possibly returning to the workforce in a new field.
"Today was enlightening. I could maybe do this, sell life insurance. This is a possibility," she said. "This is something to consider that I hadn't thought of before. Maybe it's time to make a career change and sell a product that sells itself."