Employers search for rare ‘diamonds’ in rough job market
With the state sporting a February unemployment rate of 2.1 percent, the lowest in the country, more than 160 companies and organizations on Wednesday hoped to attract workers who are already employed to the Career Expo 2018 held at the Neal Blaisdell Center.
Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser!
You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription.
Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story.
With the state sporting a
February unemployment rate
of 2.1 percent, the lowest in the country, more than 160 companies and organizations on Wednesday hoped to attract workers who are already employed to the Career Expo 2018 held at the Neal Blaisdell Center.
Otherwise, finding quality applicants in America’s tightest job market means “trying to find the diamond in the rough” among those still unemployed, said Cheryle Ann Puu, who was
hoping to fill 60 jobs — from
lifeguards to housekeepers —
for Navy Region Hawaii’s recreational facilities.
Puu acknowledged that it’s hard to find many diamonds among the unemployed who might fit Navy Region Hawaii’s needs at its golf courses, pools and lodgings.
“It is very difficult,” she said.
Altres Staffing had three booths at the Blaisdell to find 100 or so new hires for its
corporate clients, as well as
to fill Altres’ own openings.
The jobs ranged from accountants to nurses.
“Unemployment is so low that there aren’t a lot of people out of work who are actually looking,” said Emy Yamauchi-Wong, Altres Staffing’s manager.
So Altres recruiters were keeping an eye out for people who are “trainable, teachable and have great attitudes,” Yamauchi-Wong said. “Those are the ones who have a better chance that someone will give them a chance. We’re trying hard to see if
we can get them in front of
While some of the applicants showed up in T-shirts, shorts, slippers and ball caps, just as many broke out business attire, suits and ties.
Chris Alemdar, 28, showed
up at the Blaisdell in a black suit and a bright blue tie, hoping for a job in hospitality management on Oahu.
The last time Alemdar wore a suit was for his last job interview on Maui as a resort guest services manager, a position that he got.
“I didn’t wear a suit on Maui,” Alemdar said. “But
I did wear a suit to get the job.”
Alemdar, a 2016 graduate of the University of Hawaii’s School of Travel Industry Management, has a theory about how to dress for a
“It’s better to overdress than underdress,” he said.
There was plenty of help at the Blaisdell for job applicants, especially military veterans, who were given American flag stickers to wear on their lapels.
Andrew Siepka, a business development associate for U.S. Vets, was scheduled to lead three workshops
to help military veterans transition into civilian jobs.
“Military culture and civilian culture are so extreme that a lot of these guys feel lost,” said Siepka, who was
a Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd class who served in
the Iraq War.
For Wednesday’s job fair, Siepka told veterans to find a mentor to help them manage the transition from the military to civilian work.
At the job fair, Siepka wanted veterans to emphasize to potential employers that they were trained to “follow and take direction” but, at the same time, “don’t have to be micromanaged.”
Inside the entrance to the Blaisdell, seven members of the Society for Human Resources Management Hawaii chapter staffed tables to help anyone with resume and interview tips.
One of the common mistakes is making a resume too long and too detailed, said Eric Heenan, president of Alaka’i Executive Search, who volunteered to review resumes.
“They put everything they’ve done since high school,” Heenan said. “Instead, focus on results and achievements. Use a quick summary so the employer can quickly see what the person can do for me.”
Heenan had just reviewed the resume of Vincent Street, 53, of Waikele, who served 30 years in the Navy specializing in information technology and telecommunications.
Street put on a pin-striped gray suit for Wednesday’s job fair and was looking for a good-paying career as an IT manager or a technology project manager.
“I have a pretty narrow focus,” Street said. “But I’m very optimistic.”
With an American flag on his suit and a resume filled with military accomplishments, Street impressed Heenan.
“He’s exactly what we’re looking for,” Heenan said.