Work wanted in Aspen |

Work wanted in Aspen

Wyatt Haupt Jr.
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Jordan Curet The Aspen Times
ALL | The Aspen Times

ASPEN ” A few days after Melinda Gyles moved to Aspen from Montana with her boyfriend, she found herself at the Hotel Jerome roaming around its expanse ballroom, moving from table to table.

The 20-year-old brunette was not there because she was waiting tables. Gyles was there because she wanted to waitress, and she figured the 2008 Aspen Job Fair was the place where she might be able to land a gig.

“We just got here,” said Gyles on their arrival from Missoula, where she most recently was employed as a cocktail waitress and bartender at the Press Box Restaurant, Casino and Sports Bar. “I just want to find a restaurant job.”

Gyles said she spent the previous day going from restaurant to restaurant ” six in all ” with the hope of catching a break. But she came up empty.

“A lot of people are saying they aren’t hiring,” Gyles said.

She felt better about her chances at the job fair, held Nov. 14.

“I am very glad it was here considering I just came down here,” said Gyles, who got a chance to meet with many potential employers, although markedly fewer than showed up last year. “I like the personal interaction.”

The fair, hosted by the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, comes amid a backdrop of woeful economic conditions that include massive stock market losses and a global credit crisis.

That likely led to a smaller participation rate at least on the business side of the event as some companies pare back in rough economic times.

About 20 businesses took part in the 2008 job fair. That was clearly lower than 2007 numbers, when more than some 30 businesses and companies participated.

“Last year, they were wrapped all the around [the ballroom]. They were in the middle, too. It was like a donut,” said Heather Compton, director of member services for the chamber, on the number of tables businesses had set up.

But those same harsh economic conditions seemed to also ignite a strong public turnout given jobs are harder to get and keep.

About 300 people showed up at this year’s event, according to chamber totals. In the initial hour alone, about 150 job seekers came through. By comparison, about 175 people total showed up at last year’s event.

“I think it’s the economy,” said Compton regarding the substantial increase in the number of people who attended the job fair.

That seems to have given businesses the upper hand ” at least on the hiring front this year.

“It’s interesting. Of course, the climate has drastically changed,” said Kathryn Consoli, president of TTP Inc., a Florida-based personnel services firm with an office in Carbondale. “More people are looking for jobs.”

Susan Buckley, regional director of operations for restaurant group Il Mulino New York, echoed those sentiments. Il Mulino plans to set up shop at the base of Little Nell in early February and is looking to fill out its staff.

“I am seeing people from all different walks of like,” said Buckley on the job fair turnout. “I think the economy is playing a big part. They are finding themselves unemployed. But they can take advantage of these opportunities.”

One such person was Andy Stokes, who arrived in Aspen the day before the job fair and was looking for a job to get him through the ski season. The 24-year-old Stokes said he was hoping to get work at a restaurant or on the mountain, and the job fair gave him a good shot.

“It’s a great idea,” he said.

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