Greg Suko, a former federal auditor who has been unemployed for about three months, has visited four Northern California job fairs this month alone. Recently, he took his quest for a job in accounting or technology to a job fair at the Hotel Whitcomb.
“I’ve traveled to Emeryville, Concord, Walnut Creek and now San Francisco,” said Suko, who noted that he has only received about two calls from his prior job fairs. “These companies are looking for very specific experience, so it’s easy not to qualify for a position you hoped you would get.”
In fact, organizers of the HIREvent in The City boasted that more 1,100 jobs were offered by the companies attending the fair, including Sutter Health, the Federal Reserve Bank, Lodestar Technologies and the San Francisco Police Department.
But while a few employers at the fair were looking to staff entire stores, such as the Japanese clothing retailer UniQlo, others, such as Prudential, were only trying to fill a single position.
“We’re in need of someone who qualifies for our sales position, the financial professional associate,” said Prudential recruiter Adrienne Ramirez. “They need to pay for three licenses … to sell insurance and investment products and need to participate in a part-time training program to later be reimbursed.”
Despite the specificity of experience sought by some job fair employers, Kathy Caricato, job fair coordinator for the California Job Journal, said the company makes every effort to create an event beneficial to job seekers.
“We’ve gotten great feedback from a lot of people who attend these events,” Caricato said. “Things have changed and a lot of big companies have started to get involved. Now more people participate and more jobs are offered.”
Still, the latest unemployment numbers underscore the challenge that many Bay Area job seekers are still encountering. On Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that unemployment rose 0.4 percent in June in San Francisco and 0.3 percent in Marin and San Mateo counties. Unemployment now stands at 7.8 percent in San Francisco, 7.1 percent in San Mateo County and 6.6 percent in Marin County.
Statistics also revealed that 2,000 more San Franciscans are currently without a job, adding to the 34,700 people unemployed in May.
But despite the recent increase in local unemployment, the labor bureau reported a 1.3 percent drop in statewide unemployment from last year’s 11.9 percent rate in June.
Jodi Chavez, Senior Vice President at Accounting Principals, noted that California is in much better shape today than in recent years.
“The unemployment rate went from 7.4 percent to 7.8 percent,” Chavez said. “Although this may seem like a lot, what people need to remember is that it’s a good change from the 10.4 percent from last year.”