HELP WANTED—Hundreds of job seekers crowd one of two halls filled with potential employers at the Eastside Neighborhood Employment Center Job Fair at Eastminster Presbyterian Church. (Photos by J.L. Martello)

By 3 p.m., more than 300 job seekers had filled the two large dining halls at Eastminster Presbyterian Church, and the job fair for the general public didn’t start until 4 p.m. By then, the crowd had tripled.

But it wasn’t just the size of the crowd that made the Eastside Neighborhood Employment Center’s June 5 Employment Fair impressive, it was the number of companies, nonprofits and agencies looking for workers.

Four, 50-foot rows of folding tables in one room alone allowed seating for representatives from more nearly 70 employers, ranging from small local firms like Two Men and a Truck to Fortune 500 companies like Prudential Financial and FedEx.

Rich Flanagan, manager for the Employment Center said he expects they had more than the 1,300 applicants that attended last year’s event, but he won’t have a final count for a few days.

“The employers seemed quite happy,” he said.  “BYN Mellon said they were not only impressed by the racial diversity, but also by the skill levels. They saw everything from entry-level to people with MBAs.”

Prudential Financial Services Manager Mark Rusiski, said far from looking at a narrow range of skills, the company is expanding its presence in Pittsburgh and is looking for a broad range of employees.

We have a broad focus, particularly on training,” he said. “We’re doing a lot of outreach, and we’re committed to providing education, mentoring and coaching to our employees.”

And this wasn’t just a case of companies collecting resumes to “see what’s out there” in terms of available labor, many of these employers are hiring now.


HAVE RESUMES, WILL TRAVEL—Louis Thompson takes a break from talking with prospective employers to grab more resumes and return to the June 5 Eastside Neighborhood’s Job Fair.

“I’m looking to fill 500 positions, full- and part-time, between now and Christmas,” said FedEx Clinton Hub Manager Larry Davis. “These are all for package handling at our warehouse out by the airport. But once you have your foot in the door, you can move to forklift operator or outside moving trailers around. There’s room to move up.”

Speaking of moving, Aquarius staffing, representing First Student, was at the fair looking to hire school bus drivers.

“They serve a lot of districts and private schools; Pittsburgh Public Schools, Penn Hills, North Hills, Avonworth,” said Account Manager Tessa Myers. “They typically lose people over the summer, so we’re constantly hiring. They provide free CDL (commercial drivers license) training.”

School bus not big enough? Pitt Ohio express is also looking for drivers, and offers free CDL training.

Elena Gobble, from Wilkinsburg, filled out one of their applications, along with several others.

“I was looking for something in food service, because I have experience there,” she said, filling in her information. “But I’m filling out as many as I can. Gotta pay the bills.”

Gobble has a criminal background, so she came early. The fair organizers set the first hour aside for applicants with criminal issues, those coming out of foster care, and veterans.

Though a record can often be problematic, depending on the nature and severity of the offense, it may or may not be an actual problem.

Myers said for her client, other than crimes against children, all other issues are considered on a case-by-case basis. Rusiski said much the same, not all crimes are job-killers, though some definitely are.

“We’re regulated by the (Securities and Exchange Commission), so any felony at all or any financial misdemeanor, like check kiting, is a no go,” he said.

Neither of those were problems for Louis Thompson of East Liberty, who said he was primarily interested in security work as he walked out of the church with a folder full of applications. He had a different problem.

“I only had so many copies of my resume. So, I’m off to print up some more,” he said. “I’ll be back.”

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