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In East Meadow, job seekers keep trying

Hundreds of Long Islanders seeking jobs attended a

Hundreds of Long Islanders seeking jobs attended a job fair Thursday in East Meadow hosted by Sen. Kemp Hannon. (Aug. 26, 2010) Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

A laid-off waiter at 54, Dan Brillantino nevertheless stepped up to the U.S. Army table Thursday night at an East Meadow job fair that drew hundreds of people.

“I’m a little too old, I’m told,” said the Lynbrook resident, who moved in with his parents to help them out while he searches for work. “I was curious. I’m pretty much open to seeing what’s around . . . anything that has some kind of benefits and a chance to move forward.”

The gentle brushoff he received was part of the job fair etiquette that several frustrated job hunters said was missing from some employers at the fair and in the job market.

One Long Island job classifieds publication, for example, seemed more interested in getting a national chain to advertise, and as the two representatives chatted about this and that for 10 minutes, at least one job hunter came, waited and eventually left.

Another job seeker complained that he’s been called to several job interviews, only to find himself and several others being given sales pitches on products or being recruited to sell. A woman, fresh from the U.S. Census Bureau to the unemployment ranks, said too many companies refer job hunters to their websites for information.

A part-time communications teacher, Elsea Chea of Hempstead said one college at the job fair refused to take his resume. “We’re just here for applications for students,” Chea said he was told. “I thought that was crazy. I said ‘Take my resume.’ She said ‘No, we just do admissions.’ ”

The job fair, held in the East Meadow High School gymnasium, drew about 600 registered job hunters, many walk-ins and 80 employers with what the organizer called “real jobs,” although it was too soon to tell right afterward whether anyone got one. 

Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) said he did not want it to be a career day, in which firms just showcased themselves, but invited firms that had posts to fill.

Most firms there had sales and entry jobs, with some looking for people with specific skills in accounting, investigations and health care. Even though many were sales and retail jobs, several firms said they offered base pay above minimum wage, along with commission and benefits.

Robert Guida, founder of Guidance Corp., a Manhattan-based firm that provides temporary and permanent staff, mostly in health care, said he does not mind if someone's using his firm as a "bridge" employment until the economy improves. The health-care industry is growing so much, he said, that if  "500 physical therapists" showed up, he'd hired them.

"This recession is going to be a long, steady, gradual recovery," he said, "and I would expect that bridge jobs, which in past recessions would be six months to a year, maybe would now be like two to three years. It’s a great win-win situation. It’s a chance for the applicant to try out the company or industry and a chance for the company to try out the applicant.”

Kevin Hecker Jr., a marketer for Hicksville-based Slomin’s home security firm, took advantage of the long line waiting in front of the Northrop Grumman table and collected resumes.

“We’re looking for customer service sales people,” he told several. He said Slomin’s also wanted people for sales teams that would go door to door, jobs that start with a $15 base, hourly wage.

Recent graduate Melissa Renard of Amityville had a criminal justice degree and was interested because of the security connection.

Saying she's “intimidated” because of the bad job market, Renard said company's at the fair  were friendly.  “If a position is not available, they’re letting me know something that‘s closely related." 

She has a job in the credit processing industry but now wants a foot in the door of her chosen career. “For the experience, I’ll take no pay.”

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