Job fair more about networking than hiring | AspenTimes.com

Job fair more about networking than hiring

John Colson
Aspen, CO Colorado

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

ASPEN ” Approximately 175 prospective job seekers checked out the offerings at a local job fair Friday, but apparently not many actually landed gainful employment.

According to some of the businesses represented, both the turnout and the tally of new employees were mildly disappointing.

“I’m not seeing a lot of traffic,” said John Van Benthuysen, part owner of the Labor Source employment agency, which had a table at the Aspen Chamber Resort Association’s 2007 Job Fair, held at the Hotel Jerome Grand Ballroom.

But even if he doesn’t get many employees out of the day’s work, Van Benthuysen said, at least he is able to use the opportunity to network with other businesses and friends.

Carrie Cook, holding down the table for the Frias Properties real estate company, said she had few potentially good applicants for office or shuttle duties, and that such job fairs are hit-and-miss propositions for her company.

“It hasn’t failed miserably,” she said cheerfully of the event, but agreed with Van Benthuysen that the main benefit for her was meeting and greeting with other local business people.

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Jim Engler, hiring manager for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, said he was looking mainly for drivers and that a job fair such as this one “doesn’t seem to draw very much for us.”

“We do better when we recruit out of state,” he said, adding that the agency prefers to hire locals who have housing.

Melissa Dipalola, recruiting coordinator for the Aspen Skiing Co., said her table attracted “maybe 15 or 20” applicants with some potential. She also said there will be a recruiting table set up at the Buttermilk Ski Area Retail Sale event today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and that the Skico will be recruiting in Carbondale on Nov. 8.

The job fair’s 30-plus tables, which were staffed by representatives of businesses large and small, were arranged around the walls and in the center of the room. The representatives enticed visitors with munchies and such paraphernalia as pens, “”church-key”” can openers and tubes of lip gloss, along with the potential of employment.

By late morning, according to ACRA representatives, a mere 50 or so people had come to look for work. The count had risen to 120 or so by early afternoon, but a number of tables reported scant interest on the part of prospective workers.

Still, some said they felt well-served by the event.

“It’s really nice,” said Dianna Platero, 24, who grew up in Aspen. “I like how they set it up. I think it’s really organized.”

That assessment was echoed by a forties-something woman who would identify herself only as “Kathy,” who lived in Aspen in the early 1980s, moved to New Jersey to raise a family and is now back to see what the town has to offer.

“It’s really great,” she said of the job fair. “A little bit for everybody.”

Her table mate, Terry Murray, who has been in town since 1969 and owned several businesses before retiring recently, was looking for “part time concierge work, something like that” because, she said, “It’s fun to work in this town.”

As for the job fair, she said, “I think it’s fabulous.” She said it was enlightening to hear about the jobs available from people who actually work for the companies involved, “and you get to teat all these yummy treats.”

Karen Keeley, project manager for the ACRA, said the attendance at this year’s fair “was better than last year” and that the chamber’s top brass will be reviewing this year’s event “to see what might be done differently next year.”

John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com.