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Job Fair comes to Brooklyn

Despite the city’s high unemployment rate, Brooklyn residents were optimistic at a recent job fair in downtown Brooklyn.

The “Keep America Working” career fair, a national tour from the employment Web site Monster.com, came to the Brooklyn Marriott (333 Adams St.) August 5. The tour, which is scheduled to hit 60 cities throughout the year, brought 28 employers to job-seekers in Brooklyn, with 800 job-seekers from the area coming out for the fair.

Williamsburg resident Edgar Laureano was among the unemployed at the Marriott, who heard about the job fair in an e-mail from Monster.com. Laureano saw the career fair as an opportunity to network himself to potential employers. He was hopeful about finding new job opportunities and is “eager to get back into the workforce.”

Though he admitted that it is “very depressing and heartbreaking that people all over the country are out of jobs,” Laureano did find a positive.

“It just makes people hungrier,” he said.

Steve Sylven, the director of public relations at Monster.com, was also optimistic. Sylven stated that assisting the unemployed with the resources and contacts they need, particularly in this economic climate, was “the entire genesis of the program. There was a need to connect employers to seekers, and to get people back to work.”

In previous stops on the tour, Sylven has seen firsthand the effects of putting people in contact with the right employers. With over 1,000 positions available at the fairs, “Every person you talk to potentially has a job for you,” he said.

Monster Vice President Eric Winegardner agrees, saying that the tour “does a really good job at dispelling the rumor that no one is hiring. People are hiring, it’s just more competitive now.”

As of June 2009, the unemployment rate for New York City was up at 9.5 percent, the highest that it’s been since July 1997, according to the New York State Department of Labor.

In an effort to get people across the country back to work, Monster attempted to set its attendees up with employers looking to hire, while also offering assistance to those people who haven’t had to go on job interviews for years.

These people, who Winegardner referred to as “the unexpected unemployed,” were offered tools to refresh them on how to prepare, approach, and follow-up at career fairs. He also acknowledged that many of these people have never had to use the Internet while previously looking for jobs, and that they were making a special effort to assist these people in their job hunt.

Winegardner also expressed that each stop on the tour is tailored to the specific demographic and skill set of the job-seekers in that area. For Brooklyn, he said they aimed to recruit “the large organizations to the mom and pops as well. We’re trying to cater to all skill levels, from entry-level to executives.” Companies such as Allstate, MetLife, UPS and Liberty Mutual were among the employers present.

“You see in this room that there are great jobs,” he said at the fair. “You can go to work tomorrow.”

Rob Ward of Windsor Terrace, a freelance video editor, has felt the repercussions of Brooklyn’s unemployment rate and is eager for more work himself. In a creative field where he is self-employed, he attended the career fair to explore different fields and make new contacts.

“You do what’s out there,” he said. “You don’t turn anything down.”

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