Hundreds take part in job fair

The red and white signs dotting the campus of Davis & Elkins College Friday directed drivers straight to the Randolph County Development Authority’s first-ever job fair.

In the parking lot of the McDonnell Center, where the fair took place, Beverly resident Katrina Syckafoose said she hoped the employment extravaganza would provide a path toward new careers for her and her daughter.

Syckafoose said she was seeking a payroll position, while her daughter, Danielle Defibaugh, was searching for a post in the hospitality industry.

“It was really nice for (my daughter) having Snowshoe, The Greenbrier and The Homestead all in one place,” Syckafoose said. “She didn’t have to travel all over the world to be told ‘sorry, we can’t help you.’ Plus, it gets all the nervousness out at one time.”

“I’m excited that they had so many employers here,” she added. “There was just great variety. I hope it helps the unemployment here.”

Robbie Morris, executive director of the RCDA, indicated that Defibaugh and Syckafoose were two of nearly 250 people who ventured out to the fair to find jobs or explore career changes. Sixty-one potential employers set up tables, accepted resumes, handed out applications and conducted interviews from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Morris said the fair went “fantastic.”

“We are very pleased with the turnout we’ve had today,” he said. “The application tables have been full all morning.”

While some job seekers simply wanted a summer job – college student Lucy Parsons said the seasonal employment would enable her to pay for her school books – others were attempting to return to the work force after being laid off.

Loretta Broschart, of Beverly, remembers the day Armstrong World industries was forced to cut her position.

“I was laid off on 11/11/11,” she said. Broschart bounced back, enrolling in school in the medical assisting field soon after. On Friday, she felt confident in her chances of landing a job.

“I filled out all the applications online before I came and researched the companies,” Broschart said. “I came prepared, and there was a lot here for me.”

Some companies had lots of slots to fill, while other businesses were browsing for candidates to put on their to-call lists should a position pop open.

Eric Edwards, a territory recruiter for Colonial Life, a benefit enrollments and education supplier, said the company has numerous openings – company officials won’t know how vast the need is until more facets of the Affordable Care Act are implemented in 2014.

“We’re looking to hire as many people as possible because of health care reform,” Edwards said, after wrapping up a conversation with Alexander Taylor of Huttonsville.

Taylor, he said, could likely be a new hire.

“After talking to hundreds of people, I can tell you that gentleman right there (Taylor) is an excellent fit,” Edwards said.

At the next table over, Donna Simmons, director of special education for Randolph County Schools, said she and Interim Superintendent Terry George were hunting for special education teachers.

“That’s a high needs area,” she said. “They’re hard to find, and that’s one reason we’re here. We’ll also have various jobs throughout the summer and school year posted, both service and professional.”

Meanwhile, Mountain Valley Bank respresentatives were compiling a list of qualified candidates they could call should a current employee deliver his or her two- weeks’ notice.

“We have no available positions now, but we like to have applications on hand,” said marketing and human resources manager Joan Hostetler. “You could have a position come open tomorrow.”

Hostetler also said she hopes the job fair doesn’t fizzle out after its inaugural year.

“A lot of people are afraid to come into the bank and apply because they think you have to have a degree in accounting,” she said. “This is a less scary atmosphere, and I think it’s great for the community. I just hope they continue to do this.”

Lisa Reed, D&E’s director of career services, said Hostetler wasn’t the only employer who expressed that sentiment.

“We had all great feedback from the employers,” Reed said. “They want another one next year, and many asked for one in the fall.”

In addition to the RCDA, the Elkins-Randolph Chamber of Commerce, D&E College and The Inter-Mountain sponsored Friday’s fair.