Job-seekers see what's out there at Finney County Job Fair




A year after changing jobs, Larry Gennette's new employer downsized, putting the human resources manager back in the job market.

That was 2010. He's still looking.

Being out of work is frustrating, but Gennette tries to keep an upbeat attitude.

"I might get lucky. Who knows?" he said with a chuckle. "You can't do anything but keep trying, you know? And that's what I'm doing."

Gennette was one job seeker who spent time Tuesday afternoon at the Finney County Job Fair at the Clarion Inn Conference Center, filling out applications and handing out resumes to potential employers.

"I actually used to attend this job fair every year as an employer. I'm surprised there aren't more people here, to tell you the truth," he said. "It's a tough, tough market."

Gennette was HR manager for International Paper, formerly Temple Inland, for seven years. After being recruited by Home Depot and going to work there, he lost his job when the company went through a nationwide downsizing of 2,200 workers across the country.

"It's been tough ever since," he said.

Gennette said he has a CDL license and drove a truck for three months last summer, but he is looking to get back into HR management.

"The last three weeks I drove the truck, I didn't get paid because my employer claimed he wasn't getting paid," he said. "So I decided I'm not going to do that."

Tuesday's job fair attracted 21 local and area employers, such as Kansas Children's Service League, Mosaic, Sunflower Electric, Sears and Boothill Casino and Resort.

Kristie Goff, 43, came to the job fair looking to make a career change. Goff has worked in mainly secretarial and customer service jobs but really wants to find a medical career.

"It's a little stressful," she said about looking for a job in a different field. "It's the unknown. You hope you find what you're looking for, but you're not sure. Just saying that made my stomach flip."

Goff graduated from Seward County Community College in 2002 after studying respiratory therapy and is considering going back to school again to get a bachelor's degree in something related to medicine.

"The KansasWorks people were awesome. They were very helpful. Everyone has been really awesome," she said.

KansasWorks, the brand name for the state's public workforce system, brought a bus to Garden City in which applicants could conduct online job searches and get assistance with resumes and brushing up on job seeking skills.

Goff said her son, Chance Blalock, also attended the job fair. Blalock currently works at a local convenience store, but Goff believes he's really looking for a career.

"He's trying to find his niche, too," she said.

Tom Tricks, 61, moved to Garden City two months ago from Kingsville, Texas. He's been out of work since last October and has family in the area.

"Mostly I worked in a car rental agency as a manager. The last couple years, I worked in the service department of a Chevrolet dealership in Texas," he said.

Tricks said he wasn't looking for anything in particular Tuesday other than an administrative type job, or something in automotive, an area he has more than 25 years experience in.

"I've been filling out applications over the Internet, mostly," he said. "Most places, it seems like it's Internet-only, anymore."

Tricks said the job market is tough, but he hoped to find work in Garden City.

"I've always liked Garden City. It's a nice, clean town," he said.

Byron Peirano, sales manager with Southard Corp. Renewal by Andersen, said he was looking for sales people and proximity marketers, which is a person who drives the streets and finds leads for the sales staff.

It was Peirano's first time at the job fair. The most challenging aspect of finding workers is locating those with a good work ethic, he said.

"When you find the right person, you've found the right person. They'll work really good for you," he said. "But some of the generation coming up behind us, work skills and work ethic leaves something to be desired."

Loida Orozco, with Avon, said the fair was a little slow at the beginning, but she had passed out some information to a few individuals about home-based businesses with Avon, and opportunities to do business online through Avon's website, where they can sell products all over the United States.

Orozco, a training leader in southwest Kansas, said she attends a number of job fairs during the year.

"I have talked to a couple of people where there is a possibility they will join Avon," she said. "The skills we're looking for are motivation, wanting to really go out there and look for customers to earn that extra customer, which is unlimited earnings."

Kansas Children's Service League had eight positions open at offices in Garden City, Ulysses and Liberal, several of them supervisory and manager positions, including an early childhood education supervisor and a program services coordinator.

"We just got here a little bit ago. We had a couple of other ladies here earlier and just traded out, but they said they had a few people come through and take some information and ask about how to apply," Debra Cargile, food service manager, said.

The job fair was sponsored by the Finney County Economic Development Corp., Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Garden City Community College, Garden City Workforce Center, and Fort Hays State University.

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