Although the job market has improved significantly in Northern Nevada since the first local job fair took place more than three years ago, both employers and job seekers were still looking for that “perfect match.”
The Fallon Chamber of Commerce Fall Job Fair attracted more than 20 area firms and more than 100 people looking for employment, almost half the attendance of the spring job fair.
“It’s a whole different market,” said Lucy Carnahan, the chamber’s executive director. “In one hour, we had 57 people. Several years ago, we had a line around the building waiting to get in.”
As the morning progressed, more job-seekers came in to talk to employers. Carnahan, however, said she won’t have the final statistics on job hires until later this week.
A good barometer of the improving economy lies within the auto industry. Fallon Ford-Toyota seeks to expand its workforce in every department except the office.
“We have little turnover, but we’re increasing the size of our staff,” said co-owner Chris Henning. “We’re getting back to the staff levels before the recession.”
Henning said Fallon Ford-Toyota hired one or two candidates at each previous job fair, but with the improved economy and companies fighting for potential employees, he added it’s becoming harder to find qualified applicants. The auto dealership needed additional people for sales and detailing and an experienced technician.
Karen Isbister, a former Fallon resident and Churchill County High School graduate, is a recruiter in engineering for Aerotek, a staffing and recruiting firm in Reno. Aerotek is hiring for positions at Panasonic, which is located at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center.
“Phase two of Tesla is coming up,” she said, “and they will need employees with a construction background.”
Isbister also said she can help Fallon residents with Reno businesses that are hiring.
Valerie Johnston, CEO and treasurer of Churchill County Federal Credit Union, said she was pleased with the turnout.
“I gave out 15 applications, brought back four and interviewed two from the job fair on Monday,” she said.
Johnston said the two individuals who interviewed were exceptional.
Most firms at the job fair were looking at a number of applicants, but some were dangling a carrot.
Turnover, especially from retirees, affected the Churchill County School District this year. In order to find teachers, Lori Norcutt, human resources analyst, said the district offered $6,000 signing bonuses spread out over two years. With a decline of teachers entering the workforce and many educators wanting to stay in the urban areas such as Reno and Las Vegas, Norcutt said it’s becoming harder to attract candidates to the rural counties.
“We hired 30-plus teachers this year, and we hired a couple of retired teachers,” she said. “We’re finding it harder to get teachers to Fallon. Some feel Fallon’s too remote.”
The school district, however, was primarily hiring for substitute teachers and classified positions such as bus driver, duty assistants and paraprofessional instructional assistants. Norcutt said the district’s pool of substitute teachers has improved, but there’s a need for substitute bus drivers. The district also has openings for two English Language Learners teachers.
Highland Village needs nurses and certified nursing assistants (CNAs). Highland Village recently started a CNA class. Tammy Parkerson, human resources director, said licensed CNAs are needed now, and beginning in January, the next CNA class begins.
“We pay full tuition, and CNAs then work for a year after that,” she said, adding Highland offers benefits such as health, vision, dental and a 401K. “It’s a great opportunity to advance in a career.”
Marketing Director Lisa Gonzales said one CNA is currently working on his nursing degree.
“We reimburse that too as long as they work for us,” she said of the nursing program tuition.
Daniela said she talked with Highland, and said her employment chances look promising.
“It’s nice to have an interview,” said Daniela, who worked as a CNA in Florida. “I am also interested in nursing.”
Robert and Theresa were looking for employment in food services and medical. Robert, who has 50 years in the business, is also interested in any cook positions. Theresa said she was inquiring about office positions in the medical field.
“There’s nothing much in Fallon,” she said regarding her interests.