Karen DiGregorio should offer tips on how to cope with job loss. On Monday, she was laid off from her marketing job. By the end of the week, she already had secured a couple of interviews, including one with a company she connected with at a job fair Thursday.
DiGregorio was among the hundreds of people who filled Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral to meet with representatives of about 80 companies, nonprofits and government and service organizations at the daylong job fair organized by New Hampshire Employment Security. The 46-year-old, who has a background in real estate, is looking for marketing and project management work and hopes to find a job within three months.
"I've had a lot of bad things happen in my lifetime. And there is only one decision you have to make," the Derry resident said. "And that's whether you get out of bed in the morning or not. Because once you get out, it's perpetual motion."
That attitude likely was shared by many of the people who attended the fair, which attracted about 80 people before the doors even opened at 9:30 a.m., according to George Copadis, commissioner for New Hampshire Employment Security. The full parking lot and the many cars lined up along Hanover Street gave his words credence.
"Our No. 1 priority is getting people back to work and getting everybody who wants to work employed," Copadis said.
While at the fair, DiGregorio talked with Brooke Sullivan, of the Nagler Group, with whom she arranged an interview. Sullivan, a recruiting manager for the Bedford-based administrative staffing company and two sister companies, had already talked to about 15 people a half hour after the job fair began.
"The market is fantastic right now," Sullivan said. "We're hiring internally. We probably have 50 jobs we're recruiting for right now for the Nagler group alone.Companies at the job fair included retailers, banking,
restaurants, telecom companies and manufacturers. Thomas Hoenig, president of Spindle Technology, a manufacturing company based in Manchester, was on the hunt for a full-time machinist and a salesperson. The company has 43 workers spread over three divisions, including one in Detroit aimed at the automotive industry and one in Illinois that services agriculture.
"Anybody that manufactures anything needs a spindle," Hoenig said. "When a spindle goes down the line stops."
Spindle Technology, which has hired six people over the past year, has had difficulty finding people with the right skills.
"The unemployment is so high right now. We always would think that we would be able to find anybody anywhere, but it seems like all the good people are taken," said Hoenig, who noted that he talked to one potential recruit at the job fair who had just gotten out of college.
Kimberly Pelchal, 24, traveled about 2½ hours from Berlin on Thursday to attend the fair. The graduate student, who will receive her master's degree in August in justice studies from Southern New Hampshire University, picked up a job application at the fair from the Rockingham County Department of Corrections. Right now, she works full-time as a waitress at the Red Fox restaurant in Jackson while finishing her studies.
She hopes to find work as an admissions counselor in an academic setting and has taught a class at the prison in Berlin.
"I love criminal justice," she said shortly before leaving the fair for the long ride home. "I like learning about why people do things and connecting with the inmates and understanding, working on how to help make their lives easier after the fact."
Dennis Martin, wearing a Coast Guard veteran ball cap, hoped to find entry-level warehouse supply shipping-and-receiving work.
"I'm self-employed, but that's not happening because there are no benefits," said the Londonderry resident, who does drywall work.
On the weekends, the long-time harmonica player fronts the Dr. Harp's Blues Revue band. (On Saturday, the band was scheduled to perform at a benefit in Sunapee for the family of Chris Palmer, a Newbury firefighter who recently died of cancer.)
"You have to have another income," said Martin, 54. "Until someone hands you a million dollars, you still need to work."
Akeem Hackett, 24, of Manchester, came to the job fair accompanied by his grandmother, Margaret Smith. His most recent jobs included a stint with a day-labor company and helping out with a business owned by a friend of his father's. He's used to working hard, moving sheet rock, painting and mopping floors.
The Memorial High School alumnus said he was looking for "basically anything," though he'd prefer securing a job moving furniture. "It's hard to get anything right now at this point," he said.
As DiGregorio might have told him, it's all about perpetual motion.
Mike Cote is business editor at the Union Leader. Contact him at 668-4321, ext. 324 or email@example.com.