If the long line outside of a job fair at City College of San Francisco’s Mission Campus was any indication, the 4.7 percent of the city that is unemployed, is anxious to work.
Some of the 1,300 people in line waited for more than 30 minutes to apply for a job from 68 different employers. Some employers seemed anxious to hire and complained about the lack of applicants.
Landscapers had trouble finding those with licenses, Starbucks talked about too much turnover, and the San Francisco Police Department said its problem is getting applicants to pass background checks.
“I want to put people to work,” said Jared Vado of Frank + Grossman Landscape Contractors, Inc. “It’s hard to find people with driver’s licenses. You know it’s a city so they don’t get their license.”
Potential job seekers included everyone from recent immigrants looking for their first job to people with master’s degrees looking to get hired by the city. Employers were just as varied with everyone from the San Jose Police Department to Starbucks showing up. Absent from the event, however, was the tech sector.
“I talked to quite a few tech companies and they said that they had a lot of applications and they do all their hiring online,” said Katy Ryan, the organizer of the event. “It wasn’t a match for them.”
Deborah Olware, who used to sell advertisements for the San Francisco Chronicle and is currently unemployed, said she was looking for a sales position and applied to United, Bloomingdale’s and KCBS, among others.
Jesusita Alcorcha, who is recruiting for Sears appliance repair jobs said she found many job applicants. There was also a line at the booth of United Airlines, which is currently hiring full-times technicians for $21 an hour.
One of those waiting was Jose Gonzalez, who works at a veteran office and came from the Peninsula for his fiancée. She is currently working as a paralegal, and is now “looking for a career change,” he said.
When he inquired about positions for his fiancée, the person at the booth responded, “Is she ready to take a job that pays $13 an hour?”
The job was in customer service. “I was surprised the pay was so low, but I am aware that they are entry-level positions.”
Arev Tigrainyan, 22, worked in marketing in Armenia last year and is looking for her first job in the United States.
“I want high pay, but now my English is low so I just want to work for Starbucks,” she said.
A Starbucks recruiter who asked that his name not be used because he is not allowed to talk to the media said there are more barista jobs than there are people.
That’s because most of the city’s unskilled employees have very transitory lives. “School schedules change, people move out of the city, there’s too much going on in their lives,” he said.
Jennifer Medina said she is looking for a bank teller job and wants “something, more than just being a cashier at McDonald’s.”
Up until now she has been undocumented, she now has her work permit, and has been “doing a lot of under-the-table work, house cleaning, nannying, regular stuff undocumented people often do…whatever paid in cash.”
It is hard to tell how many people actually get hired at the job fair, as organizers do not track it, Ryan said.
Vado of Frank + Grossman Landscape Contractors, Inc. said he did end up finding up to five potential candidates with driver’s licenses.
Kate Ryan, the organizer for the event, said she did hear from a security company that told her that they would hire up to 16 candidates as long as they show up to the second interview.
The event has grown from 15 booths with a couple hundred people eight years ago to 68 booths with more than 1,300 attendees today.
Some have already signed up for next year’s job fair, Ryan said.
“We have people of all experiences here,” she said. “This is just a way to learn about what opportunities are out there.”